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Migration, Acculturation, and Environmental Values: The Case of Mexican Immigrants in Central Iowa."
Annals of the Association of American Geographers (2013)
  • Eric D. Carter, Macalester College
  • B. Silva
  • G. Guzman

Human–environment geography and geographic research on migration have largely been treated as separate scholarly spheres. Meanwhile, even as recent immigration exerts dynamic changes on American culture, relatively little scholarly work addresses immigrants’ attitudes toward environmental issues. In this article, we address the following questions: How do Mexican immigrants perceive and understand the environment and environmental problems? How do environmental values shift or become modified during the process of acculturation in the United States? To answer these questions, we use the results of surveys conducted with Mexican immigrants and their kin in central Iowa. We develop an interdisciplinary theoretical framework based on a modified concept of “environmentality” that incorporates insights from research on environmental values, immigration and acculturation, political ecology, and environmental justice. Based on this analysis, we find that immigrants become socialized to new norms, in part, through environmental practices. They are readily accepting of some U.S. norms around environmental thought and behavior (especially with respect to maintaining public spaces) but critical of others (e.g., the excessive materialism of American consumerism and its impacts on the environment and society). Immigrants draw on their experience of life in Mexico as they acculturate to find the right balance between protecting the environment and looking after human needs.

  • acculturation,
  • environment,
  • environmental values,
  • Latinos,
  • migration
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Publisher Statement
Citation Information
Eric D. Carter, B. Silva and G. Guzman. "Migration, Acculturation, and Environmental Values: The Case of Mexican Immigrants in Central Iowa."" Annals of the Association of American Geographers Vol. 103 Iss. 1 (2013)
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