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Intimacy Across Borders

Race, Religion, and Migration in the U.S. Midwest

Jane Juffer

Publication Year: 2013

Examining how encounters produced by migration lead to intimacies-ranging from sexual, spiritual, and neighborly to hateful and violent, Jane Juffer considers the significant changes that have occurred in small towns following an influx of Latinos to the Midwest.

Intimacy across Borders
situates the story of the Dutch Reformed Church in Iowa and South Africa within a larger analysis of race, religion, and globalization. Drawing on personal narrative, ethnography, and sociopolitical critique, Juffer shows how migration to rural areas can disrupt even the most thoroughly entrenched religious beliefs and transform the schools, churches, and businesses that form the heart of small-town America. Conversely, such face-to-face encounters can also generate hatred, as illustrated in the increasing number of hate crimes against Latinos and the passage of numerous anti-immigrant ordinances. 

Juffer demonstrates how Latino migration to new areas of the U.S. threatens certain groups because it creates the potential for new kinds of families—mixed race, mixed legal status, and transnational—that challenge the conservative definition of community based on the racially homogeneous, coupled, citizen family. 

Published by: Temple University Press


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p. C-C

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-xviii

The flat plains of northwest Iowa yield little to the driver blinking to stay awake: acre after acre of corn and soybeans, an occasional small town with a 7-Eleven convenience store the center of activity. Gusts of wind make the car shudder. Yet, in the distance on Highway 10, a bulbous orange shape emerges on the horizon. Slowly it takes...


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pp. xix-xxii

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-34

It might have been a town plaza somewhere in Mexico. Hundreds of Latinos gathered in the shady park on an afternoon in late July, speaking Spanish, listening to Mexican music, eating tamales, dancing in cumbia and duranguense contests. Children jumped in the bounce house, had their faces painted, watched a clown perform, and played...

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2. Two Lives

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pp. 35-64

In a 1948 report titled “Racial and National Apartheid in the Bible,” South African politician E. P. Groenewald proclaimed that “the total separation of races or apartheid was the only just policy for South Africa because God had ordained the diversity of humanity. . . . God willed that different people groups should live apart and maintain their...

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3. Hybrid Faiths

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pp. 65-86

In the sanctuary of the Covenant Christian Reformed Church in Sioux Center, Pastor Gianni Gracia stands at the pulpit, looking out over the congregation of Anglos and Latinos and welcoming them in Spanish. Many of the nearly fifty Anglos in the pews are wearing earpieces and listening to him through the translation of Piet Koene, an...

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4. Spaces of Difference

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pp. 87-110

When Martha Draayer’s father crossed the border at Eagle Pass, Texas, in 1991, he saw a sign that said “Workers needed in Iowa,” so he headed north and eventually ended up in Sibley, a small town in the northwest corner of the state. He got a job working with cattle and hogs, and three months later, Martha’s mother, baby sister,...

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5. Mother Love

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pp. 111-134

Maria G. faced a seemingly impossible predicament. The twenty-year-old Guatemalan woman had been arrested at her home in Sioux Center after the father of her baby, in the midst of a domestic dispute, called the police to report that Maria was working with false identity papers. Now, she was being held in an immigration detention...

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6. Too Close to Home

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pp. 135-166

Luis Ramirez came to the United States from Mexico in 2002 to look for work and ended up in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, a town of 5,500 located eighty miles northwest of Philadelphia. He made a home here and held two jobs—picking strawberries and working in a potato chip factory; he worked so hard that his nickname was...


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pp. 167-170

Works Cited

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pp. 171-176


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pp. 177-180

About the Author

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p. 181-181

E-ISBN-13: 9781439910542
E-ISBN-10: 1439910545
Print-ISBN-13: 9781439910535
Print-ISBN-10: 1439910537

Page Count: 203
Publication Year: 2013