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Nashville in the New Millennium

Immigrant Settlement, Urban Transformation, and Social Belonging

Jamie Winders

Publication Year: 2013

Beginning in the 1990s, the geography of Latino migration to and within the United States started to shift. Immigrants from Central and South America increasingly bypassed the traditional gateway cities to settle in small cities, towns, and rural areas throughout the nation, particularly in the South. One popular new destination – Nashville, Tennessee – saw its Hispanic population increase by over 400 percent between 1990 and 2000. Nashville, like many other such new immigrant destinations, had little to no history of incorporating immigrants into local life. How did Nashville, as a city and society, respond to immigrant settlement? How did Latino immigrants come to understand their place in Nashville in the midst of this remarkable demographic change? In Nashville in the New Millennium, geographer Jamie Winders offers one of the first extended studies of the cultural, racial, and institutional politics of immigrant incorporation in a new urban destination. Moving from schools to neighborhoods to Nashville’s wider civic institutions, Nashville in the New Millennium details how Nashville’s long-term residents and its new immigrants experienced daily life as it transformed into a multicultural city with a new cosmopolitanism. Using an impressive array of methods, including archival work, interviews, and participant observation, Winders offers a fine-grained analysis of the importance of historical context, collective memories and shared social spaces in the process of immigrant incorporation. Lacking a shared memory of immigrant settlement, Nashville’s long-term residents turned to local history to explain and interpret a new Latino presence. A site where Latino day laborers gathered, for example, became a flashpoint in Nashville’s politics of immigration in part because the area had once been a popular gathering place for area teenagers in the 1960s and 1970s. Teachers also drew from local historical memories, particularly the busing era, to make sense of their newly multicultural student body. They struggled, however, to help immigrant students relate to the region’s complicated racial past, especially during history lessons on the Jim Crow era and the Civil Rights movement. When Winders turns to life in Nashville’s neighborhoods, she finds that many Latino immigrants opted to be quiet in public, partly in response to negative stereotypes of Hispanics across Nashville. Long-term residents, however, viewed this silence as evidence of a failure to adapt to local norms of being neighborly. Filled with voices from both long-term residents and Latino immigrants, Nashville in the New Millennium offers an intimate portrait of the changing geography of immigrant settlement in America. It provides a comprehensive picture of Latino migration’s impact on race relations in the country and is an especially valuable contribution to the study of race and ethnicity in the South.

Published by: Russell Sage Foundation


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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 3-6


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pp. vii-viii

Tables and Figures

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pp. ix-x

About the Author

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pp. xi-xii


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pp. xiii-xvi

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pp. xvii-xx

In 2002 I arrived in Nashville, Tennessee, to commence a study of Latino immigrant workers and their experiences in the city. This project began my career as a scholar of immigration, race, and American cities and eventually led to the research on immigrant incorporation in Nashville schools, neighborhoods, and wider urban politics on which this book is based....

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1. Nashville in the New Millennium

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pp. 1-12

In the midst of one of the last interviews I conducted with schoolteachers for this study, Yvonne, a school psychologist, shared a sentiment that I had heard across Nashville since the early 2000s, and that I had largely accepted: Nashville wanted immigrant labor but not immigrant residents. Nashville, like many new destinations (Murphy et al. 2001; Rich and Miranda...

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2. Putting New Places on the Map: How to Study New Immigrant Destinations

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pp. 13-40

As chapter 1 suggested, and as much research on new destinations at-tests, a defining feature of the new geography of immigrant settlement that emerged in the late 1990s has been the speed with which it developed. Through the mid-1990s, Nashville, like many American cities out-side established immigrant gateways such as Los Angeles and New York ...

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3. Two Neighborhoods, Two Histories, Two Geographies: Placing Southeast Nashville

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pp. 41-75

What happens in cities like Nashville when neighborhoods and schools change through immigrant settlement? Within schools, how does the presence of students who themselves or whose families came from Latin America and beyond affect what teachers teach, how they see and under-stand their students, and where they place their work in the classroom ...

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4. Diversity at the Door: Understanding Demographic Change in the Classroom

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pp. 76-106

In an interview squeezed into the planning period of Leslie, a young African American teacher at Morgan Elementary in southeast Nashville, conversation turned to her increasingly diverse classroom. A seasoned teacher and resident of Antioch, Leslie had lived and worked through the social and demographic changes at the center of this book. In her reflections on ...

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5. Responding to Diversity: Multiculturalism, Immigration Politics, and Southern History in the Classroom

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pp. 107-137

When Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) initially denied my re-quest to conduct this study in their schools in May 2006, I contacted adjacent school systems in middle Tennessee in the hopes of salvaging the project and finding other districts interested in it. These preliminary inter-views with educators across Nashville’s greater metropolitan area painted ...

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6. Seeing Immigrant Nashville: Institutional Visibility, Urban Governance, and Immigrant Incorporation

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pp. 138-167

On an early evening in July 2007, my research assistant, Sandra, and I wandered into a draft concept plan meeting organized by Metro Nashville’s Planning Department.1 Held in the old Turner School in the heart of southeast Nashville, this meeting was part of a visioning exercise designed to create a new land-use plan that would form the basis for zoning ...

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7. Silent Streets: Assimilation, Race, and Place in the Neighborhood

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pp. 168-199

To explain how he understood life in Nashville, Leonardo, like most Latino immigrants who participated in this study, compared living in Nashville neighborhoods to living in his home town in El Salvador. Also like most other Latino immigrants, he described more differences than similarities between the two places. There, Leonardo felt more mobile and...

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8. Ma(r)king the Neighborhood: New Immigrants, Old Boundaries, New Maps

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pp. 200-231

Carl was clearly a neighborhood leader and active resident when we spoke in 2006. Nearly a lifelong Radnor resident, he had observed many changes in his neighborhood, all of which he seemed to take in stride. School integration in the 1970s had changed Carl’s neighborhood and led to the closing of Central High School, which he attended and to which he...

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9. At the Intersection of History and Diversity

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pp. 232-260

Nashville entered the last decade of the twentieth century a black-and-white city whose place on the map of country music was established but whose place on the map of international migration was questionable at best. By the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century, that image had changed. During the 2000s, Nashville’s immigrant communities grew through international migration from Latin America, secondary migration...


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pp. 261-282


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pp. 283-308


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pp. 309-318

E-ISBN-13: 9781610448024
Print-ISBN-13: 9780871549334

Page Count: 340
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 844727834
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Nashville in the New Millennium

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Hispanic Americans -- Tennessee -- Nashville -- Social conditions.
  • Hispanic Americans -- Cultural assimilation -- Tennessee -- Nashville.
  • Immigrants -- Tennessee -- Nashville.
  • Population geography -- Tennessee -- Nashville.
  • Assimilation (Sociology) -- Tennessee -- Nashville.
  • Nashville (Tenn.) -- Emigration and immigration -- Government policy.
  • Nashville (Tenn.) -- Population.
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