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Apple Pie and Enchiladas

Latino Newcomers in the Rural Midwest

By Ann V. Millard and Jorge Chapa

Publication Year: 2004

The sudden influx of significant numbers of Latinos to the rural Midwest stems from the recruitment of workers by food processing plants and small factories springing up in rural areas. Mostly they work at back-breaking jobs that local residents are not willing to take because of the low wages and few benefits. The region has become the scene of dramatic change involving major issues facing our country—the intertwining of ethnic differences, prejudice, and poverty; the social impact of a low-wage workforce resulting from corporate transformations; and public policy questions dealing with economic development, taxation, and welfare payments. In this thorough multidisciplinary study, the authors explore both sides of this ethnic divide and provide the first volume to focus comprehensively on Latinos in the region by linking demographic and qualitative analysis to describe what brings Latinos to the area and how they are being accommodated in their new communities. The fact is that many Midwestern communities would be losing population and facing a dearth of workers if not for Latino newcomers. This finding adds another layer of social and economic complexity to the region’ s changing place in the global economy. The authors look at how Latinos fit into an already fractured social landscape with tensions among townspeople, farmers, and others. The authors also reveal the optimism that lies in the opposition of many Anglos to ethnic prejudice and racism.

Published by: University of Texas Press


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pp. vii-x

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pp. xi-xii

This volume is the product of many hands, including the principal investigators, researchers, study participants, and photographers. While we studied the process of migration of Latinos to the rural Midwest, nearly all members of our research team also migrated...


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pp. xiii

Photographs follow page xiv

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Chapter 1. Aqui in the Midwest [Here in the Midwest]

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pp. 1-21

Apple pie and enchiladas symbolize a new combination in the dynamic contemporary encounter of peoples and cultures in the rural Midwest. In the late 1980s, Latinos began to pour into Midwestern villages and towns, living there year-round, working, going to school...

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En Pocas Palabras [In a Few Words] I: Ten Myths about Latinos

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pp. 22-25

Ten myths about Latinos, widely held and strongly believed by Anglos, shape interactions in daily life in Midwestern small towns...

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Chapter 2. Latinos in the Rural Midwest: The Twentieth-Century Historical Context Leading to Contemporary Challenges

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pp. 26-40

In the past, Latino immigrants tended to move to specific regions of the United States, and Mexicans tended to settle in the Southwest with the Mexican Americans who were already present in large numbers. In addition, the...

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En Pocas Palabras II: The Battle for Chapita Hills

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pp. 41-46

The fight over Chapita Hills Apartments exemplifies one of the explosive issues in the rural Midwest: low-income housing for Latinos. Chapita Hills Apartments were built in Shelby, Michigan, as transitional housing for agricultural workers...

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Chapter 3. Latinos and the Changing Demographic Fabric of the Rural Midwest

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pp. 47-73

While policy makers, advocates, and analysts today recognize that farming is no longer the dominant source of economic activity in rural America, relatively little emphasis is placed on the "new agents" of agriculture: the thousands...

En Pocas Palabras III: Emergency Medicine and Latino Newcomers

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pp. 74

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Chapter 4. Research Overview: The Rural Midwestern Context and Qualitative Methods

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pp. 75-98

Many small Midwestern towns have the familiar presence of red brick, two-story buildings lining the main street, typical from the late 1800s. On first impression, their appearance suggests a timeless, seamless homogeneity...

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En Pocas Palabras IV: Local Police, the INS, and "Churning Bad Public Opinion"

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pp. 99-101

Officer Frank is chief of police in Wheelerton; he is in his mid-thirties with close-cropped hair. We met in his office, along with a plainclothes police officer. During this study, confiscation...

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Chapter 5. "Not Racist like Our Parents": Anti-Latino Prejudice and Institutional Discrimination

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pp. 102-124

Racism is a familiar topic in social science studies of ethnic relations throughout the United States. In this study, we were surprised to find that "racism" against Latinos is a focus of ordinary conversation among rural...

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Chapter 6. On the Line: Jobs in Food Processing and the Local Economy

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pp. 125-148

Large numbers of Latinos are moving to Fall County for work, and their arrival has upset many Anglo residents. Although Latinos have become the mainstay of the local food processing industry workforce, most local Anglos...

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Chapter 7. Mexicans, Americans, and Neither: Students at Wheelerton High

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pp. 149-168

In Fred Peralta's high school study hall for students in English as a Second Language (ESL), I chatted with some of the Latino students about where they were from. One came from Chicago, one from Tamaulipas, one from...

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En Pocas Palabras V: The Virgin of Guadalupe: Admittance in Question

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pp. 169-171

In Mapleville, Michigan, a Catholic mass has been conducted in Spanish on Sundays since 1995. In 1997 a struggle began between the Spanish-speaking and the Anglo congregations at the church. The focus of the controversy...

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Chapter 8. "To Be with My People": Latino Churches in the Rural Midwest

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pp. 172-195

Two miles out of Wheelerton stands a modest new white church, Templo Cristo Rey (Christ the King Church). The church was started by several large Mexican American families who settled in the area in the 1960s and 1970s....

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En Pocas Palabras VI: The "Mexican Situation" and the Mayor's Race

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pp. 196-203

This account deals with Ligonier, Indiana, and a race for mayor that turned on the "Mexican question." In many ways, these events typify political struggles in Midwestern towns through the 1990s and into the twenty-first century as the...

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Chapter 9. E Pluribus Unum? Discussion, Conclusions, and Policy Implications

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pp. 204-221

Generally, Anglos in the rural Midwest disapprove of the Latino newcomers to their communities. A widespread stereotype is that Latinos arrive destitute and have come simply to live on welfare benefits. Contributing to this...

Appendix A. Methods Used in the Community Studies

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pp. 222-232

Appendix B. Interview Guide for Community Study in Fox and Mapleville, Michigan

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pp. 233-236

Appendix C. Focus Group Questions, Fall County, Michigan

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pp. 237-238


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pp. 239-242

References Cited

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pp. 243-261


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pp. 263-276

E-ISBN-13: 9780292797215
E-ISBN-10: 0292797214
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292702776
Print-ISBN-10: 0292702779

Page Count: 308
Illustrations: 25 b&w photos, 2 figures, 18 tables
Publication Year: 2004

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Hispanic Americans -- Middle West -- Social conditions.
  • Community life -- Middle West.
  • Immigrants -- Middle West -- Social conditions.
  • Migration, Internal -- United States.
  • Middle West -- Rural conditions.
  • Middle West -- Ethnic relations.
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