American Indian Studies Program

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Global fantasies, heartland realities: Immigrant community-based organizations’ involvement in marketing Indianapolis

Event Type
Department of Asian American Studies
Asian American Cultural Center1210 W NevadaUrbana
Mar 13, 2014   12:00 pm  
Sang S. Lee2013 Jeffrey S. Tanaka Asian American Studies Grant RecipientDoctoral Candidate, Department of Urban and Regional PlanningUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 
Originating Calendar
Asian American Studies

Indianapolis, Indiana, is a new destination for immigrants in the US Midwest. With a growth in its foreign born population from less than 2 percent in 1990 to nine percent in 2010 (US Census), the city has become home to immigrants from a wide diversity of countries including Mexico, China, India, and Myanmar. Indianapolis has enacted a variety of programs that address or celebrate ethnic diversity in response to the increase in immigration. Similar to other cities in the Midwest hoping to utilize immigrant population growth as an economic springboard, Indianapolis’s cultural diversity programs are revealed to be part of a larger economic development plan by the city. Of course, this use of immigration as an economic development tool is not a new story. What is new is the use of globalization as a rationale to build Indianapolis’ presence internationally and attempt to assert their identity as a ‘global city’. Indianapolis has put much attention on cultural diversity as a planned and sought out asset to the community. However, questions arise about who is being recruited to the city, and the actual allocation of resources. Using qualitative methods and archival research, this presentation examines the differences amongst immigrant community-based organizations (CBOs) in their interactions and engagement with the city’s Sister Cities International program. Immigrant CBOs that are best able to articulate their relevance in an international marketplace are the best matched to capture the city’s attention and resources, but immigrant CBOs are strategic in navigating this economic and political landscape to claim their belonging within the community.

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