Of Borders and Belonging in the Midwest
NYU Press 2015
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in AnthropologyNew Books in Latino StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Political ScienceNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in SociologyNew Books Network December 30, 2015 David-James Gonzales
In Latino Heartland: Of Borders and Belonging in the Midwest (New York University Press, 2015), Sujey Vega Assistant Professor of Women and Gender Studies at Arizona State University, traces the way Latina/o Hoosiers established community and belonging in Central Indiana amongst the sharp rise in anti-immigrant/Mexican sentiment after the passage of the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005 (H.R. 4437). Dr. Vega foregrounds her analysis by illuminating the “pathology of forgetting” practiced by the region’s non-Hispanic White population as they have reimagined and celebrated the region’s ethnic past through the lenses of whiteness and assimilation. Thus, despite their multigenerational presence in the region and regardless of immigration status, Latina/o Hoosiers are perpetually viewed as foreign and unassimilated by many of their White neighbors. Following the passage of H.R. 4437 by the 109th U.S. Congress in Dec. 2005, Dr. Vega explains how the discourses of illegality and nativism intermixed with the region’s collective memory to “other” and “racialize” Latina/o Hoosiers as outside the bounds of community and belonging in America’s Heartland. Examining religious practices, community celebrations, sporting events, and other forms of socialization, Professor Vega details the formation of ethnic belonging among Latina/o Hoosiers as they appropriated space and claimed membership in Greater Lafayette, Indiana. Amidst the anti-immigrant fervor of the day, Vega asserts that the establishment of ethnic belonging laid the groundwork for civic engagement and political activism as Latina/o Hoosiers participated in public demonstrations of solidarity and protest, like the Immigration Reform Protests that swept across the nation between March and May of 2006.