The presence of large populations of immigrant workers in the Central Minnesota region provides Research Group members with opportunities to engage in hands on research that is relevant to and often in collaboration with their communities. At present, research projects include:
Ann Finan (SOC) and Sandrine Zerbib (SOC): New Immigrant Farmers in the Upper Midwest: Exploring the Effects of Gender and Immigrant Identity on Farming
Drs. Finan and Zerbib are collaborating on contributing knowledge on an understudied marginalized population in Minnesota: immigrant women farmers. We will study how this emerging group of new farmers negotiates the challenges of their chosen livelihood, and how they make sense of environmental issues and community in Minnesota, thereby linking gender, immigration, farming and sustainability processes. They are conducting semi-structured interviews with respondents, engaging in participant observation in on-farm and market activities, and conducting a follow-up survey if resources allow.
Chukwunyere Ugochukwu (CMTY): Colored Spaces: New Communities of Color Place in Small Towns and Rural Areas
Dr. Ugochukwu is analyzing how Midwest small towns’ physical layouts indicate that immigrant communities of color reside in defined parts. Ugochukwu is examining recent Latino immigrants’ connections to the rest of the community physically, spiritually, economically, politically, environmentally, socially, and culturally, while exploring housing, cultural, and recreational amenities layout. The aim is to understand the problem of spatial disconnection, exclusion, and segregation of recent immigrant communities of color and how to effectively promote their integration in the built landscape. His research is currently supported by the MNSCU Chancellors's Diversity Mini-grant.
Ajay Panicker (SOC): Somali Migration into the Central Minnesota Area
Dr. Panicker is conducting semi-structured interviews (anticipated 30-40) with recent immigrants from Africa in the St. Cloud region, tracing their work histories from their point of origin(s) to the present. The study has involved collaboration with community organizations including La Cruz Community Center, The St. Cloud Area Somali Salvation Organization, and Lutheran Social Service Refugee Employment and Social Service Program. Undergraduate and Graduate students from SCSU have been involved in the project conducting many of the interviews. This research project was one of three that was made possible through the Office of the MnSCU Chancellor and the Diversity and Multiculturalism Office, which awarded the Research Group on Immigrant Workers in Minnesota a Diversity Mini-Grant.
Monica Garcia-Perez (ECON): The impact of Owners and Coworkers' Race in Wages and Hiring
Dr. Garcia-Perez is analyzing the impact of social networks on immigrant workers' wages, employment opportunities, and their labor market assimilation processes. Part of her research has been supported by a New Researcher's Fund Grant, provided by the SCSU Office of Sponsored Programs. Dr. Garcia-Perez is also working on a project on that analyses immigrant concentration in the US. Using longitudinal US Census data, the project depicts the different variables that influence the likelihood that an individual works with other immigrant workers after considering a set of demographic characteristics such as age, sex, and location. She is also drawing up a research project on the use of emergency rooms by immigrants in Minnesota.
Ed Greaves (POL) and Stephen Philion (SOC): The Impact of Immigrant Workers on Farm Labor Practices in Minnesota
Drs. Greaves and Philion are analyzing the impact of immigrant workers on farm labor practices in Central Minnesota. The objective of this research project is to shed light on how immigrant workers, in particular immigrant workers from Mexico and Central America, are impacting labor practices and the culture of the workplace (the social relations of production) in Central Minnesota (Stearns, Benton, Sherburne and Morrison Counties).
Methodologically, this project will attempt to answer this question by conducting in depth interviews with 30 immigrant workers as well as the employers of immigrant labor in the Saint Cloud area (Cold Spring, Saint Cloud, Rockville, Saint Joseph, etc). Four Spanish speaking students and Philion and Greaves will be conducting interviews. The objective of these interviews will be to develop a descriptive and comparative narrative of these relationships that can be critically analyzed with an eye toward understanding the impact of immigrants on labor practices in Minnesota. This research project was one of three that was made possible through the Office of the MnSCU Chancellor and the Diversity and Multiculturalism Office, which awarded the Research Group on Immigrant Workers in Minnesota a Diversity Mini-Grant.
In January, 2010, the Research Group won a $10,000 Diversity Minigrant from the Chancellor's Office on Equity and Affirmative Action. The grant was generously matched with $2,000 from the College of Social Sciences Dean Frances Harrold. Click here to read the Recent Progress Report .