Juan Jose Bustamante, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Latin American and Latino Studies at the University of Arkansas, worked with the Northwest Arkansas Workers' Justice Center in Springdale, AR, to create the Southern Latino and Migrant Voices Project. ASA asked Bustamante about that work:
What is the mission of the NWA Workers’ Justice Center? The mission of the center is to educate, organize, and mobilize workers against labor inequalities and injustices, particularly immigrant workers.
Could you describe the project? I created the Southern Latino and Migrant Voices Project (SLMVP) in 2013. The central goals of the SLMVP are to study, document, and preserve the significant life events of Latina/os and migrants as social actors who are relatively new to southern communities. As part of a collaborative initiative between NWA Workers’ Justice Center, OMNI Center for Peace, Justice, and Ecology, and Arkansas United Community Coalition, the focus of the SLMVP is to collect and maintain data concerning the actions taken by southern institutions to serve these newcomers, as well as to examine the ways these social actors assert their agency to contest or enable these larger social structures.
What sociological knowledge and/or skills did you use? Data gathered for this study stem from ethnographic methods—fieldwork, in-depth interviews, and visual materials. The data are organized in a Life History format to document the racially and community-structured components of migration beyond the physical limits of traditional places of settlement (e.g., Mexicans in the Southwest, Puerto Ricans in the Northeast, Cubans in Florida, and Central Americans in California).
How did you connect with the Northwest Arkansas Workers' Justice Center? I connected with NWA Workers’ Justice Center through a community-based research collaborative effort.
How long were you involved? Three years.