BARBARA ELLEN SMITH - The research that I undertook during my PDA focused on working-class Latino immigration to the U.S. South. The first component of the research explored the emerging inter-group relations among recent (since 1990) immigrants and established residents in three sites. The second component was a more focused examination of the implications of recent immigration for the terms and conditions of work in the secondary labor market of Memphis.

During the PDA I was able to complete all data collection for the first component of the project.  This consisted primarily of compiling relevant state-level data from the U.S. census and completing approximately 100 interviews and focus groups in the three sites. At present, I am analyzing the interview data along with other members of the research team. The investigation of immigration and the secondary labor market has proceeded more slowly, in part because of limitations in standardized data sources and difficulty gaining access to informants within management. Nevertheless, I made substantial progress in conceptualizing our findings from prior research (during 2000-2001) regarding the contingent employment of Latino immigrants in the distribution sector. This will enable me, along with research collaborators Marcela Mendoza and David Ciscel, to formulate additional grant proposals to pursue this topic more systematically.  

My PDA proposal indicated that I sought to generate additional funds to complete the immigration project, develop new proposals to finance additional research in this area, and publish two to three articles. Fortunately, I was able either to meet each goal outright or make substantial progress toward its accomplishment. I was able to secure an additional $100,000 for the existing three-site immigration project, which should allow us to complete that effort over the coming year (2003).  I also developed and submitted to NIH a grant proposal that, if funded, would allow researchers at CROW to undertake more systematic, longitudinal research into the experiences of Latino immigrant women. My publications include one article (in the Journal of Appalachian Studies) that was an indirect outgrowth of the PDA research and two papers currently under review (one of which is in the “revise and resubmit” stage with Social Problems). I also wrote a popular, introductory report on “The New Latino South,” which has been widely circulated among non-profit organizations, activists and philanthropists interested in the changing racial-ethnic dynamics of the region. Finally, the immigration research led to two invited presentations—one as a plenary panelist at the annual convention of the Appalachian Studies Association, and another as a paper presenter at the conference on The Transnational South organized by UNC-Chapel Hill. 

I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to spend a full year on leave, and I believe that the university’s investment in this PDA will continue to yield benefits for the institution. These include external funding, academic publications, and visibility within a large, non-academic audience for work on a trend of major significance in the Memphis area and wider region