The University of South Florida News carried an article about ongoing research into the consequences of new Latino immigrants, African Americans and working class Whites coming face to face at work in the U.S. South and how to better bridge differences. The project is led by cultural anthropologist Angela Stuesse, an assistant professor at the University of South Florida. Here are some excerpts, with some paraphrasing, from the article:
Recent immigrants and people descended from earlier immigrants – whether voluntary or forced – often eye each other warily, sometimes finding themselves at odds. Making a connection can be as simple as knowing how to start a conversation – one that can become the basis for working together – rather than a fight. But as Stuesse has found, such conversations often don’t just happen. And if they do, they can be touchy. “Across cultures, knowing what not to say can be as important as knowing what to say and how to say it,” points out, and “Immigrants, too, may hold racial and other biases toward those they come into contact with. There’s a need to help groups understand each other. Ideally, they can work together and develop mutual respect.”
Stuesse’s research has produced her forthcoming book, Globalization ‘Southern Style, which describes the transformation of small-town Mississippi when Latino immigrants begin working and organizing alongside African Americans in the area’s chicken processing plants.
While working in Mississippi, Stuesse was a founding collaborator of the poultry worker center, MPOWER, where she drew upon her research to help facilitate structured dialogue and spaces for political education and cultural sharing among immigrant and U.S.-born poultry worker leaders.
She has also developed Intergroup Resources, a comprehensive new online resource center that is becoming a national network. The user-friendly Intergroup Resources website built and designed by Stuesse’s research team offers curricula, dialogue guides, educational materials and descriptions of the efforts of various groups.