Monday, February 28, 2011

Learning a New Community

An amazing series of stories from some of Arlington's newest arrivals.

Tell Arlington's Story

I'm very pleased to announce my participation with Tell Arlington's Story, a county-wide initiative to collect the stories of everyday Arlingtonians.  Check out the website, it's amazing.

Virginia's Changing Communities

I've decided it's time to refocus this blog so that it is more in line with my current research agenda.  I began blogging in 2006 when I started fieldwork in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.  I was studying a group of North American and European retirees who had decided to make Mexico home.  It was a great run, but a series of health problems and new job demands in the U.S. have pushed my research in new and exciting directions.  I am, and always will be, a scholar of human migration.  However, my focus has reoriented toward communities in Northern Virginia. 

In 2007-2009 I did some work with Latino and U.S.-born residents of Manassas, Virginia.  It's an interesting place, but the work was not a good fit.  I found that although I enjoyed the people who were willing to share their life experiences withe me, the racial and ethnic tension there was overwhelming.  There are a lot of great people there, but also a few bad apples who aren't interesting in getting along.  They want to push their Latino neighbors out.  I did not want to continue to work under that constant pressure, so late last year as I was writing up my last article on Manassas, I decided it was time to start something new.

Since then I've started a new project in Arlington County.  For Washingtonians it probably seems like a move to the other side of the world, and in some respects, that's true politically.  Arlington is more urban, and certainly much more accepting of their immigrant populations.  But what draws me to studying Arlington is the fact that despite the rapid changes and the many immigrant populations, they've taken a different approach to their new neighbors.  My plan is to examine this as another of Virginia's changing communities.

Because my interests will be similar, I will still post on immigrant issues and legal proceedings.  I will also talk about my research process, as I will be working with students and community members throughout the project.  For this reason, I've returned to the blog's original title, "Living Ethnography."  I'm still "the Gringa," but my identity as a researcher is likely to be more expansive, and thus not limited to the U.S.-Mexico context as it was before.

I hope you'll continue to join me on this new ethnographic adventure.