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Nashville in the New Millennium

Nashville in the New Millennium: Immigrant Settlement, Urban Transformation, and Social Belonging

Jamie Winders
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 340
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  • Book Info
    Nashville in the New Millennium
    Book Description:

    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? InNashville 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 Millenniumdetails 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 Millenniumoffers 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.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-802-4
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. About the Author
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  6. Preface
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  7. Chapter 1 Nashville in the New Millennium
    (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 2005), initially seemed to welcome the arrival of Latino workers, who filled an important labor niche in the city’s residential and commercial expansion in the late 1990s and became the workers of choice in parts of the local labor market, especially...

  8. Chapter 2 Putting New Places on the Map: How to Study New Immigrant Destinations
    (pp. 13-40)

    As chapter 1 suggested, and as much research on new destinations attests, 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 outside established immigrant gateways such as Los Angeles and New York City, had an exceptionally small foreign-born population. A refugee relocation site from the 1970s on, the Music City in the 1990s was home to small numbers of Hmong refugees from the Vietnam War and larger numbers of Kurdish refugees from the first Gulf War (Winders...

  9. Chapter 3 Two Neighborhoods, Two Histories, Two Geographies: Placing Southeast Nashville
    (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 understand their students, and where they place their work in the classroom vis-à-vis broader ideas about cultural change, immigration, and other publicly debated topics? Within neighborhoods, how does the presence of residents who speak different languages and come from different places impact understandings of what it means to be a neighbor and how a neighborhood works and is governed?...

  10. Chapter 4 Diversity at the Door: Understanding Demographic Change in the Classroom
    (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 her awareness of a growing immigrant population around her neighborhood but not in it, on the “horror” stories she heard about teaching new immigrant students, and on the challenges of explaining the civil rights movement in 1950s Memphis to Latino students who wondered, “Where...

  11. Chapter 5 Responding to Diversity: Multiculturalism, Immigration Politics, and Southern History in the Classroom
    (pp. 107-137)

    When Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) initially denied my request 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 interviews with educators across Nashville’s greater metropolitan area painted a chaotic picture of the impacts of immigrant settlement on public schools in middle Tennessee. From interview to interview, district to district, there was no uniform institutional response to the arrival of immigrant students, no standard reply to the question of when immigrant students had been first...

  12. Chapter 6 Seeing Immigrant Nashville: Institutional Visibility, Urban Governance, and Immigrant Incorporation
    (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 requests and other land-use decisions for the next decade. At this gathering and at others like it, Metro urban planners asked residents to brainstorm about what they wanted their neighborhoods to look like, compiling a collective sense of residents’ aspirations...

  13. Chapter 7 Silent Streets: Assimilation, Race, and Place in the Neighborhood
    (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 able to visit friends when he wished. Here in Nashville, life was more constricted. There, social connections came easily, but in Nashville getting to know people was more difficult. Perhaps the most prominent difference that Leonardo and others noted, however, was Nashville’s silent neighborhood streets. As...

  14. Chapter 8 Ma(r)king the Neighborhood: New Immigrants, Old Boundaries, New Maps
    (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 still felt a strong attachment. Nashville’s interstate system and circle road had hemmed in his neighborhood, hurting its businesses and, along with busing, hastening its residential turnover. Finally, in the late 1990s, as Carl and other Flatrock residents entered...

  15. Chapter 9 At the Intersection of History and Diversity
    (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 from other U.S. cities, and refugee resettlement from around the world. Immigrant Nashville became more diverse and more settled, reaching 10 percent of the city’s population by 2010 and transforming conversations about race, diversity, and...

  16. Notes
    (pp. 261-282)
  17. References
    (pp. 283-308)
  18. Index
    (pp. 309-318)