UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Embodying and resisting labour apartheid : racism and Mexican farm workers in Canada's Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program Paz Ramirez, Adriana Gabriela


Contrary to government official discourses that present the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP) as a ‘human and just’ labour migration model, in this paper, the SAWP is presented as a migrant labour regime that functions as labour apartheid system of discipline and control, which is in place to satisfy the needs of capitalist development in the Canadian agricultural industry. By identifying the parallels and similarities of the differential treatment of Black migrant workers under South African apartheid with the differential treatment to which migrant farm workers are subjected under the SAWP, I explore how coercive migrant labour regimes of work function today in the context of heightened neoliberal hegemony and state multiculturalism. Through empirical evidences and theoretical claims, I identify main constitutive elements and forms of governance that cause workers to living and experiencing apartheid conditions; I explain how these forms of governance actually work on the ground, and how are they embodied, lived and contested by migrant farm workers participating in the program. I also delve in workers’ politics and their expressions of resistance and contestation to such system as they speak directly to the ways they experience apartheid conditions and the particular forms of how racism is inflicted over them. The SAWP presents an interesting opportunity to closely examine the ways in which colonialism works, how it is manifested today through labour and immigration schemes, and how these regimes are contested and challenged through migrant farm workers’ political subjectivities. In this respect, this paper paves the way for future movement-related research study of seasonal agricultural workers, which can generate collective insight and knowledge to support the organizing efforts of the precarious migrant workers in Canada.

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada