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Race-ing FargoRefugees, Citizenship, and the Transformation of Small Cities$
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Jennifer Erickson

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501751134

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501751134.001.0001

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Valley to the World

(p.1) Introduction
(p.iii) Race-ing Fargo

Jennifer Erickson

Cornell University Press

This chapter introduces Race ing Fargo as a case study for how citizenship is practiced and how diversity is approached in Fargo, North Dakota, and what the consequences of these practices are. The chapter compares citizenship practices among two social service institutions, the refugee resettlement and county welfare agencies, and two groups of refugees — New Americans — Bosnians and Southern Sudanese. The chapter discusses Fargo's topography and how Fargo has transformed from a city with an economy centered on manufacturing and agriculture to one with a more diversified economy that includes education, healthcare, software, and service based industries. It talks about the Northern European Ancestry of Fargo residents, and how the arrival of refugees complicated understandings of citizenship in the dominant population. It defines race as a broadly encompassing term that refers to skin color and physical variations among people and the harmful social judgments based on those differences, alongside also referencing language, behavior, dress, and ethnicity. The chapter talks about how the size of cities affect how refugees and immigrants are accepted by their residents, and differentiates immigrants from refugees. It then tackles citizenship and approaches it as a set of practices that seek to establish belonging to one or more places and that are relational and always in flux. Finally, the chapter discusses and defines assemblages as a theoretical concept that challenges the idea of nations, cities, or communities as bounded or homogenous spaces and instead focuses on diverse practices and relations that occur in and through the city.

Keywords:   citizenship, Fargo, North Dakota, diversity, refugee resettlement, county welfare, New Americans, Bosnian refugees, Southern Sudanese refugees

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