My current academic projects include a book-length ethnography about Latino immigrants in Manassas, Virginia and a documentation project with the National Park Service on the 50th Anniversary of Summers in the Parks.
Since the 1990s, migration from Mexico to the United States has moved beyond the borderlands to diverse communities across the country, with the most striking transformations in American suburbs and small towns. This study explores the challenges encountered by Mexican families as they endeavor to find their place in the U.S. by focusing on Kennett Square, a small farming village in Pennsylvania known as the “Mushroom Capital of the World.” In a highly readable account based on extensive fieldwork among Mexican migrants and their American neighbors, Debra Lattanzi Shutika explores the issues of belonging and displacement that are central concerns for residents in communities that have become new destinations for Mexican settlement. Beyond the Borderlands also completes the circle of migration by following migrant families as they return to their hometown in Mexico, providing an illuminating perspective of the tenuous lives of Mexicans residing in, but not fully part of, two worlds.
Beyond the Borderlands is available for purchase here.
Praise for Beyond the Borderlands:
“Beyond the Borderlands is a valuable addition to the growing literature on America’s new immigrant destinations. Full of wonderful descriptions and insightful observations, this detailed study shows how Mexicans are making a place for themselves in one Pennsylvania town and reshaping the community in complex and unexpected ways.” -Nancy Foner, author of In a New Land: A Comparative View of Immigration
“Debra Lattanzi Shutika offers a penetrating analysis. Her sensitive and insightful examination sheds bright light on the meaning of place, identity, and belonging in the United States today and constitutes essential reading for anyone seeking to comprehend the changing character of American society.” -Douglas S. Massey, Henry G. Bryant Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs, Princeton University
“In the early twenty-first century, scholars continue to expand the boundaries of our field in creative and provocative ways. This year’s recipient of the Chicago Folklore Prize for the best scholarly monograph in folklore does exactly that. Debra Lattanzi Shutika’s Beyond the Borderlands: Migration and Belonging in the United States and Mexico, published by the University of California Press in 2011, is an exemplary work of folkloristic ethnography. It greatly enriches our appreciation and understanding of how migrants from Mexico continually negotiate and renegotiate their binational sense of place and sense of belonging in two closely connected communities—one in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico, and one 2,300 miles away in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, the self-proclaimed “mushroom capital of the world.”
-Chicago Folklore Prize Selection Committee
My most recent article, “Place and the Politics of Belonging in American Suburbia,” appears in the edited volume The Role of Place Identity in the Perception, Understanding, and Design of Built Environments (Hernan Casakan and Fátima Bernardo, eds.) is available for download here.
AWP Panel: Research and Community Activism in Creative Writing: Spiral Paths. March 2013
“After the Ethnography.” A reading for the installation of Beyond the Borderlands into the Well Library at the Mason Inn.
Reading and Discussion of Beyond the Borderlands: Migration and Belonging in the United States and Mexico. Department of Anthropology, University of Maryland. November 13, 2012
“Living Ethnography: Creating an Ethnographic Field School.” American Folklore Society Annual Meeting. New Orleans, LA October 27, 2012
“Transnational Mexico.” The University of Houston Mexican and Mexican American Cultural Studies Series. Houston, TX. March 30, 2012
“Mexicans, Migration and Mushrooms: the Kennett Square Case.” University of Pennsylvania Urban Studies Colloquium. Philadelphia, PA. November 15, 2011.
“Writing the Sense of Place/Writing Non-Fiction.” Pages and Places Book Festival. Scranton, PA. October 1, 2011
“Beyond the Borderlands: Migration and Belonging in the United States and Mexico.” Reading for Fall for the Book Festival, Fairfax, VA. September 21, 2011
“Beyond the Borderlands: Migration and Belonging in American Migrations. National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC. September 14, 2011
“Anti-Immigrant Ordinances and the Latino Community.” Panel: The Impact of Anti-Immigrant Ordinances on the Housing Rights of Everyone: Lessons from Manassas, Virginia. National Conference of La Raza (NCLR). July 24, 2011
“Place and the Politics of Belonging.” Botkin Lecture Series. American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Washington, DC. August 12, 2010
In 2011 and 2012, the Field School documented the neighborhoods of the Columbia Pike in Arlington, Virginia as part of our four-week summer program. The Field School has also documented Berkeley Springs and Morgan County, WV, in 2012 and a workplace documentary project at Arlington National Cemetery in 2013 and the Alexandria Waterfront in 2014.
The field school will return in Summer 2017 documenting Arlington Community Gardens In 2016, students documented community gardens along Four Mile Run and Ft. Barnard (in Douglas Park ). This summer we’re working with Lang Street gardeners in Arlington, Virginia.
In May 2018 we plan to return to West Virginia for a residential field school in collaboration with West Virginia State Folklorist, Emily Hilliard.
Students pictured above are hiking the Paw Paw Tunnel as part of the West Virginia Field School in 2012.