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2010.06.04 > For Immediate Release
contact: Wendy Townley - University Relations
phone: 402.554.2762 - email: wtownley@unomaha.edu

Immigrants’ Civic, Political Impact in Omaha is Focus of New OLLAS Report

Omaha - A new report released by the Office of Latino/Latin American Studies (OLLAS) at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) examines Latin American immigrant civic and political participation in Omaha. The report can be found on the OLLAS website: www.unomaha.edu/ollas.

Prepared by Lourdes Gouveia and other OLLAS staff with contributions from a local community organizer, “The Omaha Site: Migrant Civil Society Under Construction” describes the opportunities and barriers that Latino immigrants face as participants in civic and political movements in Omaha, with an emphasis on recent trends in Latino immigrant integration.

The Omaha report was born from a roundtable discussion held in Omaha in 2007, which brought together researchers, service providers and community leaders – some migrants and some native-born – to discuss the challenges and advances of Latino immigrant civic engagement. Gouveia and the OLLAS research staff also conducted dozens of individual interviews with many of these leaders.

The 47-page report, released at the 2010 OLLAS Cumbre conference this past May in Omaha, analyzes the history, politics, economics and demography that shape the current migrant civil society of Nebraska’s largest city.

It is part of a larger, eight-section report published earlier this year by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars that examines civic engagement among the Latino immigrant population in eight other cities including Omaha: Charlotte, Chicago, Fresno, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Jose, Tucson and Washington, D.C.

The Omaha report contains three chapters, as well as concluding comments and two appendices.

Chapter 1: Power Relations, Labor Markets and the Formation of a “Migrant Civil Society” in the Central Plains outlines the historical and cultural context within which immigrants integrate in local communities and the forces that conspire against such integration.

Chapter 2: Immigrant Population Growth and its Impact on Integration and Political Mobilization.

Chapter 3: Three Formative Moments for the New Migrant Civil Society in Omaha, Nebraska offers a chronological outline of the development of immigrant and Latino civic organizations and political involvement in the area.

"The report represents the first account of the kinds of migrant and Latino organizations that have evolved since the late 1980s when a new and largest wave of Latino migrants began arriving in Nebraska as the result of recruitment efforts by meatpacking plants," Gouveia said. "As such, it helps fill a hole in the history of Latinos in the city and it is a good resource for community organizations, policy-makers, scholars and students alike."

About OLLAS at UNO
OLLAS (Office of Latino/Latin American Studies) is a transnational center established in 2003 for the purpose of pursuing research, teaching and community engagement aimed at increasing the understanding of Latino and Latin American populations and societies.

For more information, visit the OLLAS website at www.unomaha.edu/ollas or call (402) 554-3835. OLLAS is located in Arts and Sciences Hall, Room 106, on the UNO campus.

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UNO is celebrating its 100th anniversary. The celebration recognizes the partnership among the City of Omaha, its citizens and UNO to build a vibrant and dynamic community. The centennial theme is “UNO: Central To Our City Since 1908.” This theme acknowledges the past contributions of UNO to the community and sets the stage for great things to come.

UNO, inaugurated in 1968, emerged from the Municipal University of Omaha, established in 1931, which grew out of the University of Omaha founded in 1908. For Centennial information, go to http://www.unomaha.edu/100/.

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