- Reviewed by
Many scholars recognize that globalization has influenced local processes over the past few decades but few assemble collections that take pains to link global political economics to specific local developments. Focusing on immigration into the U.S. Southeast, Ansley and Shefner add to the growing body of literature on new immigrant destinations, their initial chapters outlining global economic policies and practices and their later chapters drawing on specific cases to demonstrate how those policies and practices influence local responses to and adaptations of immigrants. Assigning a central position to labor markets, the editors have put together a well-organized volume that brings together academics from multiple disciplines with lawyers and immigrant-rights advocates who cover subjects as broad as global neoliberalism and immigration policy to subjects as specific as housing and the recruitment practices of the poultry industry. The volume emerges out of a conference on immigration [End Page 143] into Tennessee, and Tennessee does play a prominent role in some of the articles, but the editors have been careful to locate the experience of Tennessee in broader theory, policy, and geography.
The opening chapter explicitly links national and international political economic developments with migrant flows from Latin America into the United States, arguing that economic gains expressed in measures such as Gross Domestic Product and capital investment have not succeeded in changing economic opportunities for most Latin Americans. Much of the discussion is well known to critics of neoliberal policies, but Shefner and Kirkpatrick's contribution to this work has been to demonstrate its direct link to emigration and the changing opportunity structure in the U.S. Southeast. The four sections of the volume that follow the introduction are more concerned with local receptions of new immigrants, as the title of the volume suggests but also to immigrant experiences in contexts of the multitude of extremely local initiatives to micromanage the immigrant population. The articles in these sections vary in quality, but from high to superior quality, include multiple disciplinary and other perspectives, and range from more explicitly descriptive (e.g. Anita Drever's discussion of immigrants in Tennessee; Smith's work on African American and Latino relations in Memphis) to policy oriented (e.g. Marielena Hinacapié's review of the consequences of immigration law; Ansley's concluding policy discussion) to analytical and critical (e.g. Wise and Márquez's discussion of North American Free Trade Act; Bohon, Massengale, and Jordan's comparative work on immigrant self-employment; Winders's interest in place), offering nearly any reader with an interest in immigration some gem of knowledge or perspective. While this variety could be considered too eclectic, given the complexity of the topic it is justified.
Alejandro Portes's chapter, for example, is a more general account of segmented assimilation and the tendency of new immigrants to end up in low-wage jobs, as well as focusing on the problems and potential of the second generation. Steve Striffler complements both Portes's discussion and the introduction of the volume by focusing on the concentration of immigrants in the poultry industry, [End Page 144] placing the trend in the context of the uneven and uneasy relations between the state and capital in terms of regulating access to labor.
Similarly, Sandy Smith-Nonini's work on H-2A workers discusses the often instrumentalist but also contradictory role of the state in providing guestworkers to North Carolina farmers, describing how a farmworker labor union—the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC)—has intervened in typical problems with guestworker programs such as blacklisting and underpayment or nonpayment of wages. Her meditations on FLOC dovetail with David Cornfield's work on multiethnic labor organizing in Nashville. Luna and Ansley's chapter on local antiimmigrant housing initiatives is a telling and at times poignant discussion of why increasing immigrant organization is necessary. Unfortunately, in the short space of this review, I cannot give the volume the critical appraisal that it deserves, but do, without reservation, recommend it...