Indígenas in the Fields: Mexican Indigenous Communities and the Bracero Program

Lecture Description

This talk examines the experiences of several indigenous communities in the Bracero Program, specifically the Mixtec, Zapotec, Purépecha, and Mayan communities. Although many Americans came to view braceros as one homogenous group, the regional, racial and ethnic differences among braceros shaped their social relations. Growers and contractors astutely noted racial difference and created discourses that naturalized the relationship of particular indigenous groups to specific crops. These laborer-to-crop linkages had profound implications for recruitment into the program. Recognizing the shifting meanings of race that indigenous migrants experienced, I explore mid-twentieth century racial constructs and the subsequent role of Mexican indigenous communities in food production in the US. In doing so, I also capture the myriad ways these defiant workers responded to the intense discrimination and exploitation of an unjust system that still persists today.


Labor and Working Class Migration/Migrant

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