Ethnic and Racial Studies
Taylor & Francis
This article examines media representations of immigration in Williamsburg, Virginia, a ‘new immigrant destination’ in the USA. Through a content analysis of coverage in Williamsburg's local newspaper, we explore how reporters, columnists and readers draw on nationally and internationally circulating discourses to produce public interpretations of immigration issues and construct symbolic boundaries between and among in-groups and ‘others’ in the community. ‘National boundaries drawn locally’ captures how media actors use nationally recognizable frames to interpret local issues and define the parameters of community and national belonging. ‘Localized symbolic boundaries’ take their meanings from place-based, cultural understandings, specific economic conditions and demographics in the local setting. Newspaper discussions in Williamsburg distinguish between ‘deserving’ foreign student workers (primarily from Eastern Europe and Asia) and ‘undeserving’, racialized, Latino ‘others’. Our analysis advances theories of boundary construction and holds implications for the politics of belonging more generally in other immigrant-receiving contexts.
Sohoni, Deenesh and Bickham-Mendez, Jennifer, Defining Immigrant Newcomers in New Destinations: Symbolic Boundaries in Williamsburg, VA (2012). Ethnic and Racial Studies, 37(3), 496-516.
This is the accepted (post-print) version of the manuscript.