Making the MexiRican City

To commemorate National Hispanic Heritage Month, this week's review analyzes the community-building and activist practices Mexican and Puerto Rican migrants employed in 20th-century Michigan.

Making the MexiRican City: Migration, Placemaking, and Activism in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Fernández-Jones, Delia. Illinois, 2023
304p bibl index, 9780252044847 $125.00, 9780252086946 $28.00, 9780252053993

Making the MexiRican City book cover.

This book examines the experiences of Mexican and Puerto Rican migrants who settled in Grand Rapids, MI, throughout the 20th century. Chicana/o historian Fernández-Jones (Michigan State Univ.) focuses on the different placemaking practices these populations utilized to develop a Latina/o community in a Midwestern urban center. Born into a MexiRican (i.e., Mexican and Puerto Rican) family herself, the author considers “how a numerical minority [community] with limited resources can transform an indifferent, at times hostile, locale into a setting that meets their material and cultural needs.” These strategies included interethnic networks of solidarity and cross-racial alliances, which allowed the Mexican and Puerto Rican communities, for example, to challenge discrimination in housing or hiring practices or to develop their own schools or community centers. Fernández-Jones draws upon both classic texts of Latina/o history and primary sources to develop this passionate, in-depth historical analysis, which contributes significantly to the scholarly literature on Latino communities in the Midwest and is sure to inspire future research in this area. Anyone interested in Chicana/o or ethnic histories of the US will enjoy this book, which should also become a staple in library collections on Chicana/o studies and ethnic studies.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. General readers through faculty; professionals.
: J. G. Moreno, Northern Arizona University
Interdisciplinary Subjects: Latin American & Latina/o Studies, Urban Studies, Racial Justice
: Social & Behavioral Sciences – History, Geography & Area Studies – North America
Choice Issue: Dec 2023

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