Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2013

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Khandelwal, Meena R.

First Committee Member

Dominguez, Virginia R.

Second Committee Member

Chibnik, Michael

Third Committee Member

Lewin, Ellen

Fourth Committee Member

Vaquera-Vasquez, Santiago


This research focuses on a rural Iowa meatpacking community and the ways diverse residents negotiate belonging in this context. People with various lengths of local residence, racial/ethnic identities, social classes, language proficiencies, and education levels all reside together in Meatville and many engage in face-to-face daily interactions with one another. I argue that the combination of rurality and low-wage industrial employment influences how residents manage belonging and social participation even as they engage in activities that appear unrelated to meatpacking. Identities connected to industrial work extend beyond the factory into the social relationships among community members, including those who are not plant employees. Paradoxically, economic development in the form of a meatpacking plant challenged residents' ability to see themselves as a "community" with shared experiences, values, and identities. The rural context presents a unique sense of place as well as practical challenges and opportunities for belonging. My fieldwork combines observations in the domains of school, families and households, and public events to explore how interpersonal and institutional mechanisms affect inclusion or exclusion.


Class, Ethnicity/Race, Immigration, Inclusion/Exclusion, Midwest, Rural


viii, 260 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 247-260).


Copyright 2013 Cristina L. Ortiz

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Anthropology Commons