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Participant name: Jody Swilky
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Jody Swilky
Drake University (Des Moines, IA 50311-4516)

Summer Stipends
Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2013 – 7/31/2013

Ethnic Diversification and the Changing Character of Perry, Iowa

This book-length project explores the effects of significant demographic change that began in Perry, Iowa, during the early 1990s. Latinos, arriving from U.S. border states and immigrating from Mexico, came to work at the local meatpacking plant, increasing the Latino percentage of the total population from 1 percent to approximately 25 percent. This transformation is representative of what happened to many rural communities in Iowa during the 1990s, primarily due to changes in the meatpacking industry. This study examines how Anglo and Latino residents' perspectives reflect or contrast with discourse on immigration that has been conspicuous since the 1990s in the national media and legislation, thereby shedding light on the complications and the challenges of diversification; addressing immigration-related issues without demonizing and dehumanizing human subjects; and challenging how public debate has defined the possibilities for immigration legislation and policy reform.