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Speaker Series

Patricia Lopez, Postdoctoral Fellow
Dartmouth College
"Treponematosis in Haiti: the conflation of a disease during the US occupation (1915-1934)"
October 29, 2014
4:00 p.m.  - Rockefeller 1930's Room

Karen Hebert
Assistant Professor
Yale University
"Chronicle of a disaster foretold: Science, risk, and the politics of imperilment in Bristol Bay, Alaska"
November 6, 2014
4:00 p.m. 021 Fairchild



Geography Department
6017 Fairchild
Hanover, NH 03755
Phone: (603) 646-3378
Fax: (603) 646-1601

Richard A. Wright

WrightOrvil Dryfoos Professor of Geography and Public Affairs

Ph.D., Indiana University, 1985

  • Immigration and labor markets in the US
  • Immigration, racism, and nativism

Fairchild 118 | (603) 646-3523 | CV | Google Scholar

Richard is interested in how immigrants fit into US society. His long-term collaborator, Mark Ellis (University of Washington), and he address this question in several ways. They study the labor market interactions of immigrants and migrants in and between the major metropolitan areas and regions of the United States. This research features the deeply segmented nature of these labor markets and the limited interaction between the foreign born and the native born. Richard also studies housing markets—again from the perspective of race and racism. New projects also revisit a long-term interest in skilled migration.

Current Research

* Enclaves, labor markets, and the locational choices of us immigrants in economic boom and bust (Funded by NSF)

The US economy recently cycled from a period of significant growth into the deepest recession since the 1930s. What impact has this swing had on the geographical distribution of immigrants? In the last two decades, immigrants settled increasingly outside California and other traditional gateway states. Immigrant populations grew rapidly in the South and Midwest, regions that previously had been relatively untouched by the upswing in immigration that began 50 years ago. Constrained labor demand and relatively expensive living costs in gateway locations reduced the attraction of these traditional places of settlement. The South and Midwest offered affordable prices and a seemingly insatiable demand for immigrant labor in sectors like construction, services, and competitive manufacturing. The credit-fueled boom that drew many immigrants to these new locations has fizzled and there are signs that migration behavior has also changed. Fewer people are migrating across state lines. The total annual inflow of immigrants is also diminishing and some states are experiencing slower growth or declines in their foreign-born populations. This project explores these trends, particularly as they relate to the shifting distribution of immigrants within the US. It does so by incorporating an investigation of these issues with existing theoretical frameworks for understanding immigrant locational distributions. This synthesis yields three research questions:

  1. How do immigrants – as both new arrivals from abroad and as internal migrants - respond to the pull of enclaves of co-nationals and the geography of employment opportunities?
  2. How do individual and group characteristics affect these responses to enclaves and labor markets?
  3. And, crosscutting these first two questions, are the responses to enclaves and markets – and their mediation by individuals and groups - different in the current economic hard times from what occurred in the generally prosperous era of the 1990s?

These questions hinge on a tension between the geography of labor markets and ethnic enclaves. Market pressures stimulated a relocation of immigrant settlement away from traditional gateways and associated enclaves. Immigrant populations expanded in new destinations forming new enclaves, which drew in more newcomers in a cumulative causative process. At the same time, immigrants who had been in the country for a time acquired new language and other skills enabling them to reduce their reliance on enclave support systems and disperse in search of opportunities.

Publications from this project to date:

Natasha Rivers, Richard Wright, and Mark Ellis 2015 "The Great Recession and the Migration Redistribution of Blacks and Whites in the US South," Growth and Change, forthcoming.

Mark Ellis, Richard Wright, Kristy Copeland, and Matt Townley.2014 "The migration response to the Legal Arizona Workers Act" Political Geography, 42, 46-56. DOI: 10.1016/j.polgeo.2014.06.001.

Mark Ellis, Richard Wright, and Matt Townley.2014 "The Allure of New Immigrant Destinations and the Great Recession in the United States," International Migration Review, 48, 1, 3-33. DOI: 10.1111/imre.12058

Wright, Richard and Mark Ellis 2014. "Perspectives on Migration Theory – Geography". Handbook on Migration. Michael White, editor. Forthcoming.

Mark Ellis, Richard Wright, and Matt Townley 2013 " 'New Destinations' and immigrant poverty," Stephen Raphael and David Card, (eds.) Immigration, Poverty, and Socioeconomic Inequality in the United States. Russell Sage Foundation.

* The mixed-race household in residential space: neighborhood context, segregation, and multiracial identities (Russell Sage and NSF Funded Research, Steve Holloway and Mark Ellis, co-PIs)

This research investigated the neighborhood geographies of mixed-race households in US metropolitan areas. Most previous research on mixed-race households investigates partnership formation, asking how mixed-race unions come to be. This project asks how mixed-race unions come to be in place. It explores the implications of mixed-race household geographies for residential segregation and for multiracial identity formation. The work has major significance for our understandings of racial formation, urban social geographies, and household decision making. Restricted 1990 and 2000 census data is key to this project. These data provide information on individuals and households in a format similar to the Public Use Micro Samples but in a much larger sample that includes census tract and block group identifiers. As such, these data allow us to map the neighborhood geographies of mixed-race households and to model how neighborhood characteristics affect mixed-race household location in urban space and the racial identity mixed-race couples assign to their minor children.

Associated recent publications:

2013 "Gender and the neighborhood location of mixed-race couples in the United States," Demography, 50, 2, 393-420. DOI 10.1007/s13524-012-0158-0, with Steven Holloway and Mark Ellis.

2012 "Agents of Change: Mixed-race Households and the Dynamics of Neighborhood Segregation," Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 102, 3, 549-570, with Mark Ellis, Steven Holloway, and Christopher Fowler.

2011 "Where Black-White Couples Live," Urban Geography, 32, 1, 1-22, with Mark Ellis and Steven Holloway.

* Racial segregation and diversity jointly considered

The mixed-race household project has morphed into another project on segregation and diversity in metropolitan areas in neighborhoods. The basic idea here is that rather than thinking about segregation and diversity as either/or (a place is either segregated or diverse), it is productive to consider how places can be both segregated and diverse, at the same time. This line of thought has led to a new web-based atlas that illustrates these ideas, as well as publications. Mark Ellis and Richard have recently teamed with Gemma Catney (U Liverpool) to explore patterns of segregation and diversity in England and Wales using the same lens. (Funded also by The Neukom Institute)

2013 "Patterns of Racial Segregation and Diversity in the United States: 1990-2010," The Professional Geographer, 66, 2, 173-182. DOI: 10.1080/00330124.2012.735924, with Mark Ellis, Steven Holloway, and Sandy Wong

2012 "Mapping the evolution of racially mixed and segregated neighborhoods in Chicago," Journal of Maps, with Jonathan Chipman, Mark Ellis, and Steven Holloway.

2012 "The Racially Fragmented City? Neighborhood Racial Segregation and Diversity Jointly Considered," The Professional Geographer, 63, 4, 1-20, with Steven Holloway and Mark Ellis.

2011 "Reconsidering Both Diversity And Segregation: A Reply to Poulsen, Johnston, and Forrest; And Peach," Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 37, 1, 167-176, with Steven Holloway and Mark Ellis.

Richard's research interests also include transnationalism. A set of papers deals with Salvadorans' transnational social lives, the effect of Temporary Protective Status on labor market outcomes, and an archive of our research experiences that provide some practical suggestions for field research, particularly that conducted by teams. See also a paper on the Tibetan diaspora, co-authored with Serin Houston '00. A third related paper (the one that started all this for me) tries to comprehend the links between a village in Oaxaca and Poughkeepsie NY (co-authored with Alison Mountz '95).

He also has written (with Natalie Koch '07) a brief history of Geography in the Ivy League, downloadable from our web page under "About Geography".

Richard enjoys teaching both large and small classes. Since arriving at Dartmouth in 1985, he has consistently received very complementary teaching evaluations from my students. The courses he currently teaches reflect his research interests. Most years, he teaches Geography 20—Economic Geography and Globalization and Geography 28—Immigration, Race, and Ethnicity. The latter is cross-listed with Sociology and Latino Studies. The courses are capped at 45. He has had the pleasure of teaching Geography 90 recently—the senior "culminating experience" seminar on research methods in Geography. This course focuses on the geographies of racial mixing in the United States. It approaches racial mixing with a variety of methodological perspectives, using various research techniques, via different theoretical lenses. Students not only read scholarly work to understand the particular topic under discussion; they also think seriously about the intellectual underpinnings and development of that scholarship.

Last Updated: 8/1/14