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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/24317

Title: Trouble in our Fields: Health and Human Rights among Mexican and Caribbean Migrant Farm Workers in Canada
Authors: McLaughlin, Janet Elizabeth
Advisor: Cunningham, Hilary
Department: Anthropology
Keywords: migrant workers
migrant farm workers
seasonal agricultural workers
temporary foreign workers
human rights
medical anthropology
occupational health
sexual health
mental health
health care
workers compensation
Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program
structural violence
Issue Date: 13-Apr-2010
Abstract: For many years Canada has quietly rationalized importing temporary “low-skilled” migrant labour through managed migration programs to appease industries desiring cheap and flexible labour while avoiding extending citizenship rights to the workers. In an era of international human rights and global competitive markets, the Canadian Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP) is often hailed as a “model” and “win-win” solution to migration and labour dilemmas, providing employers with a healthy, just-in-time labour force and workers with various protections such as local labour standards, health care, and compensation. Tracing migrant workers’ lives between Jamaica, Mexico and Canada (with a focus on Ontario’s Niagara Region), this thesis assesses how their structural vulnerability as non-citizens effectively excludes them from many of the rights and norms otherwise expected in Canada. It analyzes how these exclusions are rationalized as permanent “exceptions” to the normal legal, social and political order, and how these infringements affect workers’ lives, rights, and health. Employing critical medical anthropology, workers’ health concerns are used as a lens through which to understand and explore the deeper “pathologies of power” and moral contradictions which underlie this system. Particular areas of focus include workers’ occupational, sexual and reproductive, and mental and emotional health, as well as an assessment of their access to health care and compensation in Canada, Mexico and Jamaica. Working amidst perilous and demanding conditions, in communities where they remain socially and politically excluded, migrant workers in practice remain largely unprotected and their entitlements hard to secure, an enduring indictment of their exclusion from Canada’s “imagined community.” Yet the dynamics of this equation may be changing in light of the recent rise in social and political movements, in which citizenship and related rights have become subject to contestation and redefinition. In analyzing the various dynamics which underlie transnational migration, limit or extend migrants’ rights, and influence the health of migrants across borders, this thesis explores crucial relationships between these themes. Further work is needed to measure these ongoing changes, and to address the myriad health concerns of migrants as they live and work across national borders.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/24317
Appears in Collections:Doctoral
Department of Anthropology - Doctoral theses

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