The Role of Place Identity in the Perception, Understanding, and Design of Built Environments

Indexed in: Book Citation Index, Social Sciences & Humanities, Scopus, EBSCO.

In an era of globalization, where the progressive deterioration of local values is a dominating characteristic, identity is seen as a fundamental need that encompasses all aspects of human life. One ...
[view complete introduction]

US $

*(Excluding Mailing and Handling)

Place and the Politics of Local Identity: Belonging and Immigrant Settlement in American Suburbia

Pp. 163-175 (13)

Debra Lattanzi Shutika


Since the mid-1980s, the United States has experienced a rapid increase in the Latino population across the nation. These changes have been the most prominent in communities that have been termed “new destinations,” or locations outside the historic gateway immigration communities in California, Texas and Illinois. The most extreme changes have taken place in suburban communities, which historically have been the home to Caucasian middle- and upper-class families. This essay examines how Latino immigration has affected the sense of place and local identity in two suburban communities: Kennett Square, Pennsylvania and Manassas, Virginia. In each case, the longer-term population reacted negatively to the newcomers and the changes they brought to the community. Using case studies based on ethnographic research, I argue that the negative reactions are not always nativist responses; immigrant settlement disrupts the sense of place, place identity and belonging for longerterm residents. A number of interventions are offered so that policy makers, community activists and planners can help communities adapt to the transition to becoming multi-ethnic community.


Immigration, belonging, latino, suburban identity.


Department of English, George Mason University, 4400 University Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030-4444, USA