My book project, Mexican Corridors: Migration and Community Formation in the Lower Midwest, 1900 to 1950, analyzes ethnic Mexican community formation in Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri. I argue that Mexican migrants created a regional community through mobility, cultural adaptation, and transnational organizing while navigating U.S. and Mexican institutions and competing racial projects that hindered Midwestern Mexican community formation.
Mexican Corridors draws on Mexican and U.S. archival sources to explain how Midwestern Mexican experiences with Americanization programs, inconsistent discrimination, Mexican consulates, and repatriation differed from ethnic Mexican experiences in the Southwest during the interwar years. My project highlights how Mexican migrants created a regional community that connected urban and rural areas through seasonal labor, cultural production, and engaging Mexican consulates. I describe how—as Mexicans navigated employment, public parks and pools, churches, and welfare services—encounters with Anglos and African Americans reshaped their communities and the meaning of race in the Midwest. Finally, I examine the relationship among migrants, Mexican consulates, and local and federal U.S. officials to reveal how local immigration policy limited Mexican permanence in the Midwest and presented competing definitions of citizenship. Overall, I argue that movement and the efforts to control that movement were the essential factors that determined the characteristics and outcomes of the Mexican regional community in the Lower Midwest.
My use of U.S. and Mexican national archives as well as university, state, and local archives has been funded by the Americas Research Network, the Kansas Historical Society, the Center for Missouri Studies, and University of Minnesota Libraries. I have produced two scholarly articles from their generous support: “Mexican Community Formation in Nebraska: 1910-1950” in Nebraska History and “Mexican Migrants in Urban Missouri: Social Welfare Institutions and Racial Boundaries in Kansas City and St. Louis, 1915-1940” in Missouri Historical Review. You can find more of my writing on Mexican migrants in the Midwest here and here.