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CROW Research: Memphis&the U.S. South

Across Races and Nations: Building New Communities in the U.S. South

This is a collaborative research and education project focused on the implications of recent Latino immigration for racial/ethnic collaboration and conflict in the U.S. South. Funded by the Ford, Charles Stewart Mott, and Rockefeller Foundations, the project was a collaborative effort by the Center for Research on Women at the University of Memphis, the Highlander Research and Education Center of New Market (Tennessee), and the Southern Regional Council (headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia). The Center for Research on Women provided overall project coordination. Dr. Barbara Ellen Smith served as project director, anthropologist Dr. Marcela Mendoza worked as Memphis project coordinator, and Dr. David Ciscel served as a consultant on labor markets and the economic impacts of immigration.

In the U.S. South, where immigration historically has been quite limited relative to other regions and race has been configured as a bipolar divide between black and white, the arrival of new racial-ethnic groups has far-reaching implications. The project combines community-based research with popular education to investigate and influence the changing racial-ethnic dynamics in the region.

Globalization and the Paradoxes of Place: Poverty and Power in Memphis

This project, a book-in-progress, examines the significance of "place" in a global society. The subject of the investigation is Memphis, Tennessee, a Southern "regional" city prominently positioned in the global system. Written as a descriptive, interpretive, and narrative work of sociology by Dr. Wanda Rushing, it tells an elaborate story about Memphis, Tennessee, a place that occupies a prominent position in the global economy and kindles the artistic and political imaginations of people throughout the world. Publication date July 2009.


Globalization and Flexible Labor in the Memphis Logistics Sector

As "North America's Distribution Center" and the world headquarters of FedEx, Memphis occupies a prominent though largely unrecognized role in the global economy. Workers in local warehouses and the FedEx Hub make possible global economic integration by literally doing the "heavy lifting" for global trade. The schedules and other temporal aspects of their work are increasingly tied to the unpredictable tempos of global markets. The terms and conditions of employment in logistics represent an illuminating example of the relationship between globalization and flexible labor, which Drs. David Ciscel and Barbara Ellen Smith examined in this project.


Sexist Naming Practices in Collegiate Athletics in the Southern United States

As a three billion dollar-a-year industry organized upon gender divisions, college athletics is a significant site for the construction of gender ideology and gender relations. The dominance of men in college athletics and the invisibility and trivialization of women athletes raise questions of resistance and change. One of the mechanisms for the devaluing of women athletes is the use of sexist language in naming practices of collegiate athletic programs. Empirical research has found that Southern schools were more likely to use sexist names than schools elsewhere in the United States (Eitzen and Zinn, 1989).

Dr. Cynthia Fabrizio Pelak revisited the question of gender marking in collegiate athletics by examining the current naming practices of collegiate basketball programs in the Southern United States. Specifically, this research aimed to determine the types of naming practices as well as to understand the attitudes of administrators and athletes toward those naming practices of Southern schools. The findings of the study should be beneficial for intervention efforts to eliminate sexist marking and naming practices in collegiate athletics.


Who Pays for Free Trade: Community Effects of a NAFTA Corridor

Jane Henrici, Barbara Ellen Smith, Steve Scanlan, Cynthia Fabrizio Pelak, and Melissa Checker conducted a longitudinal examination of community effects of a proposed interstate highway expansion to encircle Memphis in north-south and east-west movements of traffic and trade. Relevant literature suggests that the social, economic, and environmental impacts of existing free trade interstate corridors in other U.S. regions were studied only after construction was complete rather than prior to it. In contrast, the CROW collaborators studied individuals and their communities from the time that nearby highways were newly built, linked, or widened. Issues that researchers examined included: civic engagement, community organizing, and gendered, classed, and racialized changes to the Memphis urban center and surrounding area.


Women and the Workforce: Job Training for Low-Income Memphians

Jane Henrici and Kathryn Cheever conducted a qualitative ethnographic study of local job training providers, programs, and recipients. This collaborative approach was intended to supply the multiple perspectives of providers as well as clients in order to expand upon earlier relevant research from Tennessee as well as from other urban centers and regions.

Most of the research from other parts of the United States suggests that job training programs only marginally benefit poorer women; meanwhile, earlier research limited to Tennessee suggests otherwise. Since the literature on women is conflicted about program benefits, the objective of this project was to establish whether such programs should receive increased support or alternatives developed. In particular, the study responded to the need to know more about those who complete the training and about those who then obtain regular and sustainable employment.

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Last Updated: 1/20/12