This volume argues that using social capital to eradicate poverty is unlikely to succeed because its mainstream approach mistakenly assumes that social capital necessarily benefits poor people. The inadequacy of that assumption, Sam Wong argues, calls for a reassessment of human motivations, institutional dynamics, and the complexity of structures in social capital building. Proposing a “pro-poor” perspective, in which poverty-specific outcomes are highlighted, he suggests an exploration of “unseen” social capital is in order—not only to challenge the mainstream understanding of “seen” social capital, but to demonstrate the need for everyday cooperation, which is shaped by social norms, influenced by conscious and unconscious motivations, and subject to changes in priority based on livelihood. A useful volume for both policy makers and practitioners, Exploring ‘Unseen’ Social Capital in Community Participation offers a fresh perspective in thinking about civic and social agency.
Small-scale fishing, a house-hold based enterprise in Puerto Rico, rarely provides sufficient income for a family, but it anchors their culture and sense of themselves within that culture. Even when family members must engage in wage work to supplement house-hold income, they think of themselves as fishers. Liche typifies these wage workers: "When he was quite young, he left the island to struggle in other lands, to work, to raise a family, to send home the money he earned. Ten, twenty, thirty years passed...during which he did not once fish or even see the ocean. But in a boat-building factory in New Jersey, in a bakery in the Bronx, on the production line of a chemical factory, on dozens of construction sites, every single day he made a mental review of the waters, the isles and cays ...and entertained no thought that was not related to his return."
Fishers at Work, Workers at Sea describes Puerto Rican fishing families as they negotiate homeland and diaspora. It considers how wage work affects their livelihoods and identities at home and how these independent producers move in and out of global commodity markets. Drawing on some 100 life histories and years of fieldwork, David Griffith and Manuel Valdés Pizzini have developed a complex, often moving portrait of the men and women who fiercely struggle to hang onto the coastal landscapes and cultural heritage tied to the Caribbean Sea.
As other teens returned home from school, thirteen-year-old José Silva headed for work at a restaurant, where he would remain until 2:00 a.m. Francisca Herrera, a tomato picker, was exposed to pesticides while she was pregnant and gave birth to a baby without arms or legs. Silva and Herrera immigrated illegally to the United States, and their experiences are far from unique. In this comprehensive, balanced overview of the immigration crisis, Nancy Brown Diggs examines the abusive, unethical conditions under which many immigrants work, and explores how what was once a border problem now extends throughout the country. Drawing from a wide spectrum of sources, Hidden in the Heartland demonstrates how the current situation is untenable for both illegal immigrants and American citizens. A vivid portrait of the immigration crisis, the book makes a passionate case for confronting this major human rights issue—a threat to the very unity of the country.
In the last decade, the South African state has been transformed dramatically, but the stubborn, menacing geography of apartheid still stands in the way of that country's visions of change. Environmentally degraded old homelands still scar the rural geography of South Africa.
Formerly segregated, now gated, neighborhoods still inhibit free movement. Hostels, Sexuality, and the Apartheid Legacy is a study of another such space, the converted “male” migrant worker hostel.
Professor Glen Elder identifies hostels as sites of public and domestic violence, literal destruction and rebuilding, and as an important node in the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Hostels have also become home to increasing numbers of “invisible” female residents. Finding that one way to understand hostel space is through women's experiences, Professor Elder turned to thirty black migrant women living in an East Rand hostel to map the everyday geographies of South Africa's time of change.
By following the lives of these women, Elder identifies spatialized forms of marginalization, impoverishment, infection, and disempowerment. But, as he points out, the women's survival strategies may provide signposts to the way out of apartheid's malevolent geography.
Hostels, Sexuality, and the Apartheid Legacy argues that the gendered geography of the migrant labor system developed in South Africa was premised upon sexual assumptions about men, women, and their bodies, and that feminist and queer analyses of space can inform public policy decisions.
Often overlooked in the history of Progressive Era labor, the hoboes who rode the rails in search of seasonal work have nevertheless secured a place in the American imagination. The stories of the men who hunted work between city and countryside, men alternately portrayed as either romantic adventurers or degenerate outsiders, have not been easy to find. Nor have these stories found a comfortable home in either rural or labor histories. Indispensable Outcasts weaves together history, anthropology, gender studies, and literary analysis to reposition these workers at the center of Progressive Era debates over class, race, manly responsibility, community, and citizenship. Combining incisive cultural criticism with the empiricism of a more traditional labor history, Frank Tobias Higbie illustrates how these so-called marginal figures were in fact integral to the communities they briefly inhabited and to the cultural conflicts over class, masculinity, and sexuality they embodied. He draws from life histories, the investigations of social reformers, and the organizing materials of the Industrial Workers of the World and presents a complex and compelling portrait of hobo life, from its often violent and dangerous working conditions to its ethic of “transient mutuality” that enabled survival and resistance on the road.
More than a study of hobo life, this interdisciplinary book is also a meditation on the possibilities for writing history from the bottom up, as well as a frank discussion of the ways historians’ fascination with personal narrative has colored their construction and presentation of history.
In the early 1900s, workers from new U.S. colonies in the Philippines and Puerto Rico held unusual legal status. Denied citizenship, they nonetheless had the right to move freely in and out of U.S. jurisdiction. As a result, Filipinos and Puerto Ricans could seek jobs in the United States and its territories despite the anti-immigration policies in place at the time. JoAnna Poblete's Islanders in the Empire: Filipino and Puerto Rican Laborers in Hawai'i takes an in-depth look at how the two groups fared in a third new colony, Hawai'i. Using plantation documents, missionary records, government documents, and oral histories, Poblete analyzes how the workers interacted with Hawaiian government structures and businesses, how U.S. policies for colonial workers differed from those for citizens or foreigners, and how policies aided corporate and imperial interests. A rare tandem study of two groups at work on foreign soil, Islanders in the Empire offers a new perspective on American imperialism and labor issues of the era.
Mexicans in Wisconsin
Sergio González Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2017 Library of Congress F395.M5 | Dewey Decimal 305.868720775
From agricultural and factory workers to renowned writers and musicians, the Mexican immigrants who have made their homes in Wisconsin over the past century have become a significant and diverse part of this state’s cultural and economic history. Coming from a variety of educational and professional backgrounds, the earliest Mexican immigrants traveled north in search of better economic opportunities and relief from the violence and economic turmoil of the Mexican Revolution. They found work in tanneries and foundries, and on beet farms where they replaced earlier European immigrant workers who had moved on to family farms. As Mexican immigration has grown to the present day, these families have become integral members of Wisconsin communities, building businesses, support systems, and religious institutions. But their experience has also been riddled with challenges, as they have fought for adequate working conditions, access to education, and acceptance amid widespread prejudice. In this concise history, learn the fascinating stories of this vibrant and resilient immigrant population: from the Tejano migrant workers who traveled north seasonally to work in the state’s cucumber fields, to the determined labor movement led by Jesus Salas, to the young activists of the Chicano Movement, and beyond.
Migrant workers from the Philippines are ubiquitous to global capitalism, with nearly 10 percent of the population employed in almost two hundred countries. In a visit to the United States in 2003, Philippine president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo even referred to herself as not only the head of state but also “the CEO of a global Philippine enterprise of eight million Filipinos who live and work abroad.”
Robyn Magalit Rodriguez investigates how and why the Philippine government transformed itself into what she calls a labor brokerage state, which actively prepares, mobilizes, and regulates its citizens for migrant work abroad. Filipino men and women fill a range of jobs around the globe, including domestic work, construction, and engineering, and they have even worked in the Middle East to support U.S. military operations. At the same time, the state redefines nationalism to normalize its citizens to migration while fostering their ties to the Philippines. Those who leave the country to work and send their wages to their families at home are treated as new national heroes.
Drawing on ethnographic research of the Philippine government’s migration bureaucracy, interviews, and archival work, Rodriguez presents a new analysis of neoliberal globalization and its consequences for nation-state formation.
Published in 2008 and winner of the 2011 Thomas E. Skidmore Prize, Paulo Fontes's Migration and the Making of Industrial São Paulo is a detailed social history of São Paulo's extraordinary urban and industrial expansion. Fontes focuses on those migrants who settled in the suburb of São Miguel Paulista, which grew from 7,000 residents in the 1940s to over 140,000 two decades later. Reconstructing these migrants' everyday lives within a broad social context, Fontes examines the economic conditions that prompted their migration, their creation of an integrated identity and community, and their efforts to gain worker rights. Fontes challenges the stereotypes of Northeasterners as culturally backward, uneducated, violent, and unreliable, instead seeing them as a resourceful population with considerable social and political resolve. Fontes's investigations into Northeastern life in São Miguel Paulista yield a fresh understanding of São Paulo's incredible and difficult growth while outlining how a marginalized population exercised its political agency.
Every year from April to October, the Sánchez family traveled—crowded in the back of trucks, camping in converted barns, tending and harvesting crops across the breadth of the United States. Although hoeing sugar beets with a short hoe was their specialty, they also picked oranges in California, apples in Washington, cucumbers in Michigan, onions and potatoes in Wisconsin, and tomatoes in Iowa. Winters they returned home to the Winter Garden region of South Texas. In 1951, Saúl Sánchez began to contribute to his family’s survival by helping to weed onions in Wind Lake, Wisconsin. He was eight years old.
Rows of Memory tells his story and the story of his family and other migrant farm laborers like them, people who endured dangerous, dirty conditions and low pay, surviving because they took care of each other. Facing racism both on the road and at home, they lived a largely segregated life only occasionally breached by friendly employers.
Despite starting school late and leaving early every year and having to learn English on the fly, young Saúl succeeded academically. At the same time that Mexican Americans in South Texas upended the Anglo-dominated social order by voting their own leaders into local government, he upended his family’s order by deciding to go to college. Like many migrant children, he knew that his decision to pursue an education meant he would no longer be able to help feed and clothe the rest of his family. Nevertheless, with his parents’ support, he went to college, graduating in 1967 and, after a final display of his skill with a short hoe for his new friends, abandoned migrant labor for teaching.
In looking back at his youth, Sánchez invites us to appreciate the largely unrecognized and poorly rewarded strength and skill of the laborers who harvest the fruits and vegetables we eat. A first-person portrait of life on the bottom rung of the food system, this coming-of-age tale illuminates both the history of Latinos in the United States and the human consequences of industrial agriculture.
Puerto Rico is often left out of conversations on migration and transnationalism within the Latino context. Sponsored Migration: The State and Puerto Rican Postwar Migration to the United States by Edgardo Meléndez seeks to rectify this oversight, serving as a comprehensive study of the factors affecting Puerto Rican migration to the United States from the late 1940s to the 1960s. Examining the consequences of the perceived problem of Puerto Rican overpopulation as well as the cost of U.S. imperialism on the lives of Puerto Rican workers, Meléndez scrutinizes Puerto Rican migration in the postwar period as a microcosm of the political history of migration throughout Latin America.
Sponsored Migration places Puerto Rico’s migration policy in its historical context, examining the central role the Puerto Rican government played in encouraging and organizing migration during the postwar period. Meléndez sheds an important new light on the many ways in which the government intervened in the movement of its people: attempting to provide labor to U.S. agriculture, incorporating migrants into places like New York City, seeking to expand the island’s air transportation infrastructure, and even promoting migration in the public school system. One of the first scholars to explore this topic in depth, Meléndez illuminates how migration influenced U.S. and Puerto Rican relations from 1898 onward.
Most research on female labor migration in Thailand focuses on that country's infamous sex industry. Mary Beth Mills offers the first extended ethnographic analysis of rural women's movement into less visible occupations, paying particular attention to the hundreds of thousands of young women who fill the factories and sweatshops of the Bangkok metropolis. Mills follows the women as they travel from the village of Baan Naa Sakae to Bangkok, where they encounter new forms of consumption, new "modern" lifestyles, and a new sense of identity. She finds this rural-urban migration is more than a simple economic activity, but rather an elaborate process of cultural change.
Mills describes the environments from which these women left, as well as the urban landscape they now call home. Hence, she examines key aspects of rural Thai community life, such as local consumption practices, gender roles, and the familial tensions that are often the catalyst to labor migration. Then she focuses on the city and the underlying tensions of urban employment as migrants pursue newly imagined identities as modern women, while still upholding economic and moral responsibilities to rural kin.
Lynn Stephen’s innovative ethnography follows indigenous Mexicans from two towns in the state of Oaxaca—the Mixtec community of San Agustín Atenango and the Zapotec community of Teotitlán del Valle—who periodically leave their homes in Mexico for extended periods of work in California and Oregon. Demonstrating that the line separating Mexico and the United States is only one among the many borders that these migrants repeatedly cross (including national, regional, cultural, ethnic, and class borders and divisions), Stephen advocates an ethnographic framework focused on transborder, rather than transnational, lives. Yet she does not disregard the state: She assesses the impact migration has had on local systems of government in both Mexico and the United States as well as the abilities of states to police and affect transborder communities.
Stephen weaves the personal histories and narratives of indigenous transborder migrants together with explorations of the larger structures that affect their lives. Taking into account U.S. immigration policies and the demands of both commercial agriculture and the service sectors, she chronicles how migrants experience and remember low-wage work in agriculture, landscaping, and childcare and how gender relations in Oaxaca and the United States are reconfigured by migration. She looks at the ways that racial and ethnic hierarchies inherited from the colonial era—hierarchies that debase Mexico’s indigenous groups—are reproduced within heterogeneous Mexican populations in the United States. Stephen provides case studies of four grass-roots organizations in which Mixtec migrants are involved, and she considers specific uses of digital technology by transborder communities. Ultimately Stephen demonstrates that transborder migrants are reshaping notions of territory and politics by developing creative models of governance, education, and economic development as well as ways of maintaining their cultures and languages across geographic distances.
Migrants made up a growing class of workers in late sixteenth- and seventeenth- century England. In fact, by 1650, half of England’s rural population consisted of homeless and itinerant laborers. Unsettled is an ambitious attempt to reconstruct the everyday lives of these dispossessed people. Patricia Fumerton offers an expansive portrait of unsettledness in early modern England that includes the homeless and housed alike.
Fumerton begins by building on recent studies of vagrancy, poverty, and servants, placing all in the light of a new domestic economy of mobility. She then looks at representations of the vagrant in a variety of pamphlets and literature of the period. Since seamen were a particularly large and prominent class of mobile wage-laborers in the seventeenth century, Fumerton turns to seamen generally and to an individual poor seaman as a case study of the unsettled subject: Edward Barlow (b. 1642) provides a rare opportunity to see how the laboring poor fashioned themselves, for he authored a journal of over 225,000 words and 147 pages of drawings. Barlow’s journal, studied extensively here for the first time, vividly charts what he himself termed his “unsettled mind” and the perpetual anxieties of England’s working and wayfaring poor. Ultimately, Fumerton explores representations of seamen as unsettled in the broadside ballads of Barlow’s time.
We Are Left without a Father Here is a transnational history of working people's struggles and a gendered analysis of populism and colonialism in mid-twentieth-century Puerto Rico. At its core are the thousands of agricultural workers who, at the behest of the Puerto Rican government, migrated to Michigan in 1950 to work in the state's sugar beet fields. The men expected to earn enough income to finally become successful breadwinners and fathers. To their dismay, the men encountered abysmal working conditions and pay. The migrant workers in Michigan and their wives in Puerto Rico soon exploded in protest. Chronicling the protests, the surprising alliances that they created, and the Puerto Rican government's response, Eileen J. Suárez Findlay explains that notions of fatherhood and domesticity were central to Puerto Rican populist politics. Patriarchal ideals shaped citizens' understandings of themselves, their relationship to Puerto Rican leaders and the state, as well as the meanings they ascribed to U.S. colonialism. Findlay argues that the motivations and strategies for transnational labor migrations, colonial policies, and worker solidarities are all deeply gendered.