Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version

February 1999


Published in Negotiating Power and Place at the Margins: Selected Papers on Refugees and Immigrants, Volume VII. Edited by Julienne G. Lipson and Lucia Ann McSpadden. American Anthropological Association Committee on Refugees and Immigrants. Arlington, Virginia, 1999. Copyright © 1999 American Anthropological Association. Used by permission.


This paper examines how Anglos in a small north Georgia city imagined, or conceptualized, Hispanics during the late 1990s as thousands of Spanish-speaking immigrant newcomers transformed the community’s demography. Based on two years of ethnographic research, the paper outlines the local play of several macro-social dynamics, such as businesses’ externalization of indirect costs, the ethnic segmentation of the work force, the use of sojourner labor, and the role of mediating institutions. The paper uses these dynamics to explain the emergence and sustenance of what Suárez-Orozco (1998) calls the “pro-immigration” and “anti-immigration scripts” and illustrates how these can be used to explain local circumstances. Ultimately, the paper illustrates how Anglos’ creation of simplified conceptualizations of the new Latino “other” limited the transformative potential of a novel binational partnership that brought together the local schools, local business leaders, and a private university in Mexico.