This article asks whether locality and the varied resources, networks and racialized histories of local actors make a difference in the experience of immigrants and their transnational practices. Such questions are typically explored in metropolitan centers and global cities, but the present work results from an ethnographic study of a previously all-white rural Illinois town, where the meat processing industry recruited a labor force translocally among Latin Americans and West Africans. The article reports on the experience of this rapidly diversifying town where both formal politics and the liberal-democratic channels of citizens' participation in governance remain exclusionary. Despite this, the diverse immigrant populations have achieved a certain inclusion in public institutions and public spaces. Paying attention to the dynamics developing across immigrant groups through everyday spaces of interaction within their residential community, I argue that the kinds of mediating spaces local context offers are critical to the ability of diverse immigrant groups to renegotiate the interracial social and spatial relations they encounter in a highly contested and constrained context where a global corporation is the sole local employer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1204-1222
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Urban and Regional Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2012


  • Beardstown
  • Illinois
  • Immigration
  • Informal politics
  • Meat packing towns
  • Midwest rural towns
  • Transnationalism
  • USA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Urban Studies


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