As a process, immigration into the pseudonymous small city called Marshall, the subject of a multi-year study by our guest today, Catherine Rhodes, and her colleagues Stanton Wortham, Briana Nichols and Katherine Clonan-Roy, sent all newcomers up the same path: arrival, survival, growth and absorption.
This pretty much how immigration was done, at least through World War Two, in most of America. And “Marshall” was typical-American in the who as well as the how of migration.
The first wave came largely from the British Isles … starting with the English, then the Irish, then a shift from Northern Europeans to Southerners, especially Italians. For them, the formula worked well, but for the next wave of settlers, African-Americans, racism stoppered full acceptance and absorption, and that, in turn, stifled growth and kept many people on the edge of survival.
That was how migration and settlement had gone in Marshall, but the town’s 21st century has been shaped by thousands of new arrivals from Mexico, anxious to get on the arrival, survival, growth and absorption escalator.
As you might expect, this substantial new minority group has complicated things.
Catherine Rhodes is an Assistant Professor of Ethnology at the University of New Mexico and the co-author of the new book Migration Narratives: Diverging Stories in Schools, Churches, and Civic Institutions with Stanton Wortham, Briana Nichols and Katherine Clonan-Roy.