Race and Refugees: A Case Study of Clarkston, Georgia

Authors: Sarah Ryniker*, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
Topics: Ethnicity and Race, Immigration/Transnationalism, Urban Geography
Keywords: race, refugees, immigrants, discourse analysis, South, neoliberal multiculturalism
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 36
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Since the 1980s, Clarkston, Georgia, has received an influx of refugees and immigrants from more than 40 countries, transforming the city from an overwhelmingly white majority to a non-white majority in the last 30 years. This has caused both celebration and conflict within the city that calls itself a “small town with a big heart.” Through critical discourse analysis of 14 years of the Clarkston City Council minutes, as well as newspapers and blogs, this paper builds on previous poststructural and critical race scholarship which centers race, place, and the immigrant experience. Clarkston’s refugees and immigrants are among those whose migration has prompted scholars to shift and expand definitions of the racialized South (Winders, 2005; Smith and Winders, 2008). Findings suggest that ethnicity and diversity are celebrated through events and festivals which emphasize the intersection and entanglement of race and neoliberal multiculturalism (Melamed, 2006). Further, refugees are racialized through coded language and instances related to crime, citizenship, and the census.

Melamed, J. (2006). The spirit of neoliberalism: From racial liberalism to neoliberal multiculturalism. Social text, (89), 1-24.
Smith, B. E., & Winders, J. (2008). ‘We’re here to stay’: economic restructuring, Latino migration and place‐making in the US South. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 33(1), 60-72.
Winders, J. (2005). Changing politics of race and region: Latino migration to the US South. Progress in Human Geography, 29(6), 683-699.

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