Images of work, images of defiance: engaging migrant farm worker voice through community-based arts

Agriculture and Human Values 36 (3):627-640 (2019)

Abstract

This article addresses a stated need within the food justice movement scholarship to increase the attention paid to the political socialization of hired farm hands in industrial agriculture. In Canada, tackling the problem of farm worker equity has particular social and political contours related to the Canadian horticultural industry’s reliance on a state-managed migrant agricultural labour program designed to fill the sector’s labour market demands. As Canada’s Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program produces relations of ‘unfree labour’, engaging migrant farm workers in social movement initiatives can be particularly challenging. Critical educational interventions designed to encourage migrant farm workers’ contribution to contemporary social movements in Canada must therefore confront the socio-cultural obstacles that constrict migrant farm workers’ opportunities to participate as full members of their communities. In this article, I argue that social justice oriented approaches to community-based arts can provide a means for increasing the social movement contributions of farm workers employed through managed labour migration schema such as Canada’s SAWP.

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