The heartland of America is experiencing unprecedented demographic changes as more Latino newcomers move to rural communities. The cultural identity literature provides insights into how culture serves as a resource from which individuals draw to create strategies to function in various domains of society. Social networks have been characterized as a form of capital and studied in rural development as an asset that contributes to the livelihoods of rural people. The preliminary findings indicated that, regardless of time in the US, most of the newcomers maintained strong ties to their culture on two levels. They acknowledged experiencing less racism today than when they first arrived in the community and attributed this to the increasing number of newcomers who have settled in the area and the residents becoming more accustomed to the diversity in the community.
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Corresponding author Corinne Valdivia is associate professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Missouri (MU). Pedro Dozi is graduate research assistant, Department of Agricultural Economics, MU. Stephen Jeanetta is assistant extension professor, Department of Rural Sociology, MU. Lisa Flores is associate professor of Counseling Psychology, College of Education, MU. Domingo Martínez is Director of Cambio Center for Research and Outreach on Latinos and Changing Communities, MU. Anne Dannerbeck (formerly at MU) is research manager of Missouri State Courts Administration. All are fellows at Cambio Center. The authors are grateful for the support of many community organizations in the development of their research, and the Office of Socio Economic Data Analysis OSEDA, MU. This project was supported by National Research Initiative Grant No. 2006-35401-17429 from the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service Rural Development Program.