Illinois State University’s Latin American and Latino/a Studies program and the McLean County Museum of History are teaming up to host a community reading group.
Anthropologist Sujey Vega, author of Latino Heartland: Of Borders and Belonging in the Midwest, will speak at 7 p.m. Thursday, February 23, in the Old Main Room of the Bone Student Center at Illinois State University as part of the community reading group.
On Saturday, February 25, Vega will also hold a community “charla” at 1 p.m. at the McLean County Museum of History. Both speaker programs are free and open to the public thanks to the Sage Foundation Fund at Illinois State.
The Community Read Program, sponsored by Illinois State’s Latin American and Latino/a Studies program and the McLean County Museum of History encourage community members to read Vega’s book in preparation for her visit to Bloomington-Normal. Copies of the book can be borrowed from both the Bloomington and Normal public libraries, and they are available for purchase at the museum, Babbitt’s Books, and Barnes & Noble.
Latino Heartland is a timely ethnographic account of a small community in Indiana. Through interviews with Latinos—both new immigrants and long-standing U.S. citizens—and whites, as well as African-Americans, this book offers a detailed account of the racial dynamics at play as immigrants construct an ethos of belonging by drawing on cultural practices from their homeland. Vega offers an account of how Latino Hoosiers interact with locals at work, and in church, schools, and other social spaces. “Through daily acts of ethnic belonging, Spanish-speaking residents navigated their own sense of community that did not require that they abandon their differences just to be accepted.”
Guests are invited to see the museum’s exhibit Challenges, Choices, and Change: Making a Home that introduces visitors to individuals who have settled in McLean County from all over the world. From the arrival of native people to the immigration of Asian-Indians and Latinos in the late-20th century, Making a Home reveals the many challenges this diverse group of people faced after their arrival. Their stories of determination and hard choices, of maintaining traditions and inventing new ones are similar to Vega’s stories of modern immigrants as they find a way to belong and make a home in a new place.
For additional information, call Jeff Woodard of the McLean County Museum of History at (309) 827-0428 or Professor Maura Toro-Morn of Illinois State at (309) 438-0097.