Seeing Immigrants: Institutional Visibility and Immigrant Incorporation in New Immigrant Destinations

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63 Scopus citations


Since the 1990s, immigrant settlement has expanded beyond gateway cities and transformed the social fabric of a growing number of American cities. In the process, it has raised new questions for urban and migration scholars. This article argues that immigration to new destinations provides an opportunity to sharpen understandings of the relationship between immigration and the urban by exploring it under new conditions. Through a discussion of immigrant settlement in Nashville, Tennessee, it identifies an overlooked precursor to immigrant incorporation-how cities see, or do not see, immigrants within the structure of local government. If immigrants are not institutionally visible to government or nongovernmental organizations, immigrant abilities to make claims to or on the city as urban residents are diminished. Through the combination of trends toward neighborhood-based urban governance and neoliberal streamlining across American cities, immigrants can become institutionally hard to find and, thus, plan for in the city.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-78
Number of pages21
JournalAnnals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2012


  • Southern cities
  • immigrant incorporation
  • neighborhood empowerment
  • neoliberalism
  • new immigrant destinations
  • urban politics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences


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