Dumping Grounds and Unseen Grounds: Placing Poverty, Race, and Ethnicity in the Rural American Northwest

Presented by
Victoria Lawson
Professor, Thomas L. & Margo G. Wyckoff Endowed Faculty Fellow, University of Washington Department of Geography
Lucy Jarosz Associate Professor, University of Washington Department of Geography
Anne Bonds Doctoral Candidate, University of Washington Department of Geography
On Monday, February 11th, 2008 at the Evans School of Public Affairs


This project extends the poverty research agenda through its attention to the recursive relations between political-economic restructuring and the discursive production of social difference. We argue for a geographical and encultured political-economy approach to analyzing race, ethnicity and poverty processes. We find that racialized poverty is produced in the reciprocal relations between local historical, ecological and social processes and the articulation of those places with new rounds of capital accumulation under neoliberal restructuring. Our empirical investigation focuses on White and Latino poverty across non-metropolitan counties of the American Northwest (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana).

In the context of neoliberal restructuring, rural counties experience a range of modes of articulation within the global division of rural labor and we observe three distinct modes of articulation in the American Northwest: 'playgrounds'; 'dumping grounds'; and 'unseen grounds'. We first map county-level patterns of white and Latino poverty in relation to county-level economic restructuring during the nineties across the region. We then employ in-depth comparative case study research to explore the intersections of specific forms of neoliberal restructuring with place-based historical, ecological and social processes to understand rural White and Latino poverty in the region. Keywords: rural poverty, race, the American Northwest.

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