ATH 185 MU Ethnographic Us &


Scholar Debra Lattanzi Shutika (2011) focuses on Mexicans from Textitlán, Guanajuato and immigrants in Kennett Square, PA. Although she argues that her work goes “beyond the borderlands,” I suggest that the borderlands concept is nonetheless useful even in the US American heartland. In Latino Heartland, Sujey Vega (2015:7) refers to borderlands concept as a physical and metaphorical “apparatus that peels away the economic, racial, gendered, and historical borders that created difference, sustained distance, and inspired unique exchanges between peoples.” Luis Alberto Urrea (1993:9), for example, writes, “There are many Mexicos; there are also many Mexican borders….” And on Tama, Iowa, Doug Foley notes, “The boundary between white and Indian culture is often distinct and antagonistic but hardly impermeable. People from both races live in this complex racial borderland that partakes of both cultures” Foley (2003:7).

First, symbolic or cultural borders or spatial divides cut across and between communities here in deep Ohio, thereby creating cultural borderlands, or as Campbell and Kean put it (1995:221), “Boundaries can be real, physical forces, but also used to represent a wider range of psychological or social determinants that shape and construct youth [and others] within the larger cultural framework.” Second, one could argue that Mexican immigrants to Kennett Square (or Butler county), figurative and literally, remain in a cultural borderland (or “south of the border”). In Kennett Square, they are partly integrated into the mushroom and consumer economy; people buy homes in the US while continuing to build homes in back home. They are also resented and excluded by the majority Anglo population (Lattanzi Shutika 2011).

Third, many remain spatially and culturally divided from the dominant population.


For this ethnography assignment I would like you to do the following:

  • Ethnographic Description: Find what you think as a significant cultural border(land), visit it, observe social interactions and avoidance, and describe this area as best you can. [Make sure you know the difference between “border” a physical or metaphorical line and “borderland,” the larger “space” created by borders.
  • Analysis 1: What are the key things that you observe and how can you make sense of them? How can you try to explain what is going on “culturally”? Be sure to discuss and analyze the “border” or “borderland” you have visited and observed.
  • Analysis 2: Relate what you have observed back to course readings. How do these books and articles help you to think about the space you have visited and observed?
  • Reflection: You can get more personal here. What do you think of all of this? How did you feel while visiting and thinking about this heterogeneous culture space? What does this exercise teach you about cultural diversity in the US? How can you think about this anthropologically?


This paper should be typed, double-spaced, proofread and spell-checked, with page numbers inserted. No title page needed, but include your name, course number, assignment and paper title, and date at the top of the first page. Suggested length: 1000-1500 words.

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