I approach this study out of concern for the unique and complicated way in which low and lower-middle income Latino immigrants in Hartford, Connecticut are not able to access basic human rights—especially education and economic security—due to barriers surrounding the cultural relevancy of state-provided and certain privately-provided services. This case study of two Catholic faith-based organizations (FBOs) in Hartford, both of which serve Latino immigrants, breaks new ground in understanding why and how the Catholic commitment to social justice—historically significant in Latin America and in the Hispanic church in the United States—contributes to the broader picture of immigrant accommodation in the Northeastern U.S. My investigation seeks to find: a) the ways in which Jubilee House adult education center and Our Lady of Sorrows parish directly provide services for education, financial stability, and mental health in the absence of sufficient culturally relevant state-provided services, b) the ways in which the personal relationships and networks at these FBOs are valuable for accessing basic needs, and c) how and why Latino immigrants re-conceptualize citizenship and social justice for themselves and one another through these FBOs. In conducting this study, I used: literary references, interviews with staff members, clients, and parishioners; and ethnographic observations made through the method of participant-observation. My initial findings, based on about two months of fieldwork, indicate the significance of a culturally-relevant personal and spiritual connection that sees the “whole” individual and forms a network of trust between service provider and client/parishioner. In particular, at the church, this relationship of trust represents a Latino-specific expression of social justice and citizenship.
Kacevich, Sarah, "Accessing Human Rights through Faith-based Social Justice and Cultural Citizenship: Hartford’s Low-income Latino Immigrants" (2013). Community Learning Research Fellows. 70.