The embodied precarity of year-round agricultural work: health and safety risks among Latino/a immigrant dairy farmworkers in New York

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Abstract

This paper analyzes how industrial agricultural production and an exclusionary immigration regime produce an embodied form of precarity among an undocumented immigrant labor force in the New York dairy industry, a much-celebrated engine of rural economic growth. In this industry, immigrant workers settle for years at a time, forming ethnic enclaves from which employers source workers for low-wage, exhausting, dangerous, year-round jobs. While much of the literature on migrant worker precarity has focused on temporary, insecure, flexible, and informal workers, this paper adds to this literature by analyzing how the permanence and regularity of dairy farming shape the embodied dimensions of worker precarity. The analysis shows how ‘everyday deportability’ (De Genova in Migrant “illegality” and deportability in everyday life. Annu Rev Anthropol 31(1):419–447, 2002), a weak regulatory structure, and the particularities of the production process combine to shape severe forms of physical risk to immigrant working bodies in the dairy industry. Findings are based on a qualitative study with current and former Latino/a dairy farmworkers between 2011 and 2015. This paper contributes to theorizing worker precarity in agricultural workplaces under the ongoing neoliberal restructuring of the global agri-food system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAgriculture and Human Values
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agronomy and Crop Science

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