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Mexican-American Landscapes in Small Midwestern Cities: Mixed Methods Development of a Typology.

By Susan Leigh Dieterlen


Mexican-Americans have become increasingly visible in recent years in the Midwestern United States. Study of the Mexican-American experience consistently ignores landscapes outside the Southwest, despite the implications of these landscapes for design and planning context and the relationship of landscape to non-spatial change. This dissertation investigates the landscapes of Midwestern Mexican-Americans in small cities, connects these landscapes to social and economic variables, and creates a landscape typology. A broad review of literature revealed isolated statements about Mexican-Americans and landscape in the Midwest. I synthesized these into eight types of landscapes, or the physical environments in which humans live, to provide a coherent structure for these facts and to reorient them toward the physical landscape. I then used case studies of the Mexican-American landscapes in eleven small cities representing landscape types drawn from the literature to compare long-established communities with newly formed ones, through field observation and remote data collection. This phase found five types of landscapes, with one to three types predicted by the literature. I then evaluated cities in Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan to see if these landscape types would accurately describe Mexican-American landscapes there. Fifty-three small cities were classified, with 26 identified as Postwar Industrial Magnet, eighteen as Entrepreneurs and Workers, and nine as New Communities. Both phases exhibited a clear division between landscapes associated with well-established communities and those associated with newly formed communities. A final typology of Midwestern Mexican-American landscapes in small cities incorporated the distribution of these landscape types and their demographic, economic, and landscape characteristics. Statistical analysis also revealed that economic and demographic variables were correlated with landscape variables for these cities. The study confirmed the presence of Mexican-American landscapes in small Midwestern cities and demonstrated that these communities differ in consistent and predictable ways. I used the findings to develop the first typology of Mexican-American landscapes in the Midwest, the first empirically-based descriptions of these landscapes and their current conditions, and advice for practitioners on shaping the built environment of similar cities

Topics: Cultural Landscapes, Latina/O
OAI identifier: oai:deepblue.lib.umich.edu:2027.42/64704
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