An interdisciplinary journal about regions, places, and cultures of the US South and their global connections

Global Lives, Local Struggles: Latin American Immigrants in Atlanta

Mary Odem, Emory University

Published: 
19 May 2006
Overview: 
Still of Mary Odem speaking at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.

Over the past two decades, hundreds of thousands of men and a growing number of women and children from Mexico and other parts of Latin America have migrated to the Atlanta, Georgia metropolitan region to find work in its thriving economy. According to the Census, Atlanta has experienced the most rapid Hispanic growth rate of all major US metro areas during these years. As a new immigrant destination, Atlanta has presented distinct opportunities and constraints to Mexicans and Central Americans seeking to live and work there. Immigrants have been drawn by the huge demand for labor in the construction, landscaping, restaurant, and service industries, and by the availability of cheap housing in form of numerous low-rent apartment buildings.

But they have also faced serious restrictions and discrimination as low-wage immigrant laborers, particularly the large number of undocumented workers. Despite these constraints, Latino immigrants have created cultural spaces for themselves. One of these is a Latino-Catholic mission where immigrants can practice their faith in a familiar and welcoming environment and find the social and spiritual resources to deal with the hardships of migration and adaptation to life in the US.


Photograph of Rosa, Miguel and their son.

Global Lives, Local Struggles:

(Documentary footage used in this essay was provided by William Brown, Director, Living Across Borders.)

 

Right: Photograph of Rosa, Miguel and their son.

 

 

Use the scroller to the right of the playlist to watch all eight parts of the talk.

 

*Global Lives, Local Struggles: Latin American Immigrants in Atlanta was sponsored by a grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Religion at Emory University.

 

About Mary Odem:

Mary Odem received her PhD in History from the University of California, Berkeley in 1989. Her areas of specialization within the field of US history include women and gender, family, migration, and ethnicity. Her research has focused on the ways in which capitalist development, urbanization, migration, and the expansion of state power have shaped and transformed gender, family, and race/ethnic relations. Odem's first book, Delinquent Daughters: Protecting and Policing Adolescent Female Sexuality in the United States (1995), examines the gender, class, and racial tensions that fueled campaigns to control female sexuality in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This book won the President's Book Award for the best new book manuscript from the Social Science History Association and was named a Choice Outstanding Academic Book of 1996. She has also co-edited a collection of essays, Confronting Rape and Sexual Assault (1998), which brings together leading scholarship in the social sciences on the subject of sexual violence.

Her current research project, Latino Immigrants and the Transformation of the U.S. South (2009), addresses the socio-cultural contexts, processes, and transformations of Latin American migration to the US South since 1965. The project examines how diverse groups of migrants from Mexico and Central America have reconstructed community life and collective identity in urban and suburban South, focusing on the gender and family dimensions of this process.

Video of Prof. Odem was taken at "The End of Southern Exceptionalism" conference held at Emory University in March of 2006, an event organized by Prof. Joseph Crespino of the Emory University History Department and Prof. Matt Lassiter of the Department of History at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

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Images:
Adame Bus Station in Chamblee with routes from Atlanta to cities and towns in Mexico. Chamblee, Georgia. Photo by Mary Odem, 2001
 
Signs outside of the Buford Highway Flea Market. Chamblee, Georgia. Photo by Mary Odem, 2001
Adame Bus Station in Chamblee with routes from Atlanta to cities and towns in Mexico.
Chamblee, Georgia.
Photo by Mary Odem, 2001
 
Signs outside of the Buford Highway Flea Market. Chamblee, Georgia.
Photo by Mary Odem, 2001
   
Blessed Sacrament Chapel in the Misión Católica de Nuestra Señora de las Américas. Doraville, Georgia. Photo by Mary Odem, 2000
 
Offerings in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel in the Misión Católica. Doraville, Georgia. Photo by Mary Odem, 2000
 
Offerings in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel in the Misión Católica.
Doraville, Georgia.
Photo by Mary Odem, 2000
   
Statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe outside of the Misión Católica. Doraville, Georgia. Photo by Mary Odem, 2001
 
Day Laborers on Buford Highway. Chamblee, Georgia. Photo by Mary Odem, 2001
Statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe outside of the Misión Católica.
Doraville, Georgia.
Photo by Mary Odem, 2001
 
Day Laborers on Buford Highway.
Chamblee, Georgia.
Photo by Mary Odem, 2001
   
Day Laborers waiting for work on Buford Highway. Chamblee, Georgia. Photo by Mary Odem, 2001
 
The First Baptist Church of Doraville. Doraville, Georgia. Photo by Mary Odem, 2001
Day Laborers waiting for work on Buford Highway.
Chamblee, Georgia.
Photo by Mary Odem, 2001
 
The First Baptist Church of Doraville.
Doraville, Georgia.
Photo by Mary Odem, 2001
   
Statues of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the Misión Católica. Doraville, Georgia. Photo by Mary Odem, 2001
 
Las Americas Grocery Store. Doraville, Georgia. Photo by Mary Odem, 2000
Statues of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the Misión Católica.
Doraville, Georgia.
Photo by Mary Odem, 2001
 
Las Americas Grocery Store.
Doraville, Georgia.
Photo by Mary Odem, 2000
   
Street sign on Buford Highway. Chamblee, Georgia. Photo by Mary Odem, 2001
 
Two men at the Feast Day celebration in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Misión Católica. Doraville, Georgia. Photo by Mary Odem, 2000
Street sign on Buford Highway.
Chamblee, Georgia.
Photo by Mary Odem, 2001
 
Two men at the Feast Day celebration in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Misión Católica.
Doraville, Georgia.
Photo by Mary Odem, 2000
   
Procession in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Doraville, Georgia. Photo by Mary Odem, 2000
 
The Misión Católica with Doraville MARTA station in the background. Doraville, Georgia. Photo by Mary Odem, 2000
Procession in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Doraville, Georgia.
Photo by Mary Odem, 2000
 
   
The Misión Católica de Nuestra Señora de las Américas. Doraville, Georgia. Photo by Mary Odem, 2000
 
Wynchase Apartments on Shallowford Road. Doraville, Georgia. Photo by Mary Odem, 2001
The Misión Católica de Nuestra Señora de las Américas.
Doraville, Georgia.
Photo by Mary Odem, 2000
 
Wynchase Apartments on Shallowford Road.
Doraville, Georgia.
Photo by Mary Odem, 2001
   
Image of Our Lady of Suyapa, the patron saint of Honduras, in the Misión Católica. Doraville, Georgia. Photo by Mary Odem, 2001
 
Procession for the Peruvian celebration of the feast day of El Señor de los Milagros. Doraville, Georgia. Photo by Mary Odem, 2000
Image of Our Lady of Suyapa, the patron saint of Honduras, in the Misión Católica.
Doraville, Georgia.
Photo by Mary Odem, 2001
 
   

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Recommended Resources:
Print Materials

Arthur D. Murphy, et al., Latino Workers in the Contemporary South (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2001)

Mary E. Odem and Elaine Lacy (eds.) Latino Immigrants and the Transformation of the U.S. South. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2009.

Roger Rouse, "Mexican Migration and the Social Space of Post-Modernism” Diaspora 1(1991): 8-23.

Smith, Heather A. and Owen J. Furuseth, eds. Latinos in the New South: Transformations of a Place. Aldershot, England: Ashgate Publishing, 2006.

 

Table
From: Rakesh Kochhar, Roberto Suro and Sonya Tafoya. "The New Latino South: The Context and Consequences of Rapid Population Growth," (Washington, DC: Pew Hispanic Center, 26 July 2005)
http://www.pewtrusts.org/our_work_report_detail.aspx?id=23322

 

Map

US Map: Hispanic Growth by State, 1990-2000
Map

Map of Mexico featuring state of Jalisco and the town of Ejido Modelo Emiliano Zapata
Map

Metro Atlanta Hispanic Population, 1990
Map

Metro Atlanta Hispanic Population, 2000

 

Links

Rakesh Kochhar, Roberto Suro and Sonya Tafoya. "The New Latino South: The Context and Consequences of Rapid Population Growth," (Washington, DC: Pew Hispanic Center, 26 July 2005) http://www.pewhispanic.org/2005/07/26/the-new-latino-south/

Lewis Mumford Center, "Hispanic Population Data for the Metropolitan Statistical Areas: Atlanta, GA,"
http://mumford.albany.edu/census/HispanicPop/HspPopData/520msa.htm

Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) Bus and Rail Map
http://www.itsmarta.com/schedules-maps.aspx

Audrey Singer, “The Rise of New Immigrant Gateways,” (Washington DC: The Brookings Institution, February 2004).
http://www.brookings.edu/research/reports/2004/02/demographics-singer

Barbara Ellen Smith, "Rethinking Southern Communities," U. S. South in Global Contexts Conference (Southern Spaces, February 2004)
http://southernspaces.org/2004/u-s-south-global-contexts

Roberto Suro, “Remittance Senders and Receivers: Tracking the Transnational Channels,” (Washington, DC: Pew Hispanic Center, 2003).
http://pewhispanic.org/files/reports/23.pdf

Jamie Winders, "Latino Migration and Nashville, Tennessee," U. S. South in Global Contexts Conference (Southern Spaces, February 2004)
http://southernspaces.org/2004/u-s-south-global-contexts

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