Title: They leave their kidneys in the fields : illness, injury and illegality among U.
Description: Oakland, California : University of California Press,  " Series: California series in public anthropology ; 40 Includes bibliographical references and index. Migrant agricultural laborers—California—Central Valley—Social conditions. C2 ebook DDC A portion of the proceeds from sales of this book will be donated to Mendota High School in California to fund an annual college scholarship for a child of farmworkers. A number of people have helped to shape this book since its inception nearly a decade ago.
Many colleagues were generous with their time and expertise, commenting on the manuscript and nudging it toward completion. Louise Lamphere has been a consistent mentor, and I am indebted to her for her advice and insight.
Bill Alexander offered thoughtful comments on previous versions of the manuscript and helped me strengthen it. I am also indebted to Charles Briggs and Nancy Scheper-Hughes for their helpful suggestions and advice.
They Leave Their Kidneys in the Fields - Illness Injury and Illegality among US Farmworkers
I am grateful to my colleagues at the University of Colorado, Denver UCD , for providing me with the time and support necessary for finishing the book. I am ever grateful for his generosity with his time and his consistent, unwavering mentorship. Chris Beekman provided the humor, Tammy Stone the support and no-nonsense advice, and Jean Scandlyn the enthusiasm that helped lighten the load. And many wonderful UCD students helped me develop my thinking about various aspects of this project.
This book has benefited from institutional support from the University of Colorado and University of California systems. A visiting scholarship at the Center for the Study of Law and Society at the University of California, Berkeley, provided me with the space and time to finish the manuscript. Over the years, many friends, family, and fictive kin have put up with this project and supported it in multiple ways.
My parents, Neil and Bronwen Horton, nurtured the interest in social justice that first led me to anthropology and then on to farmworker health. Together with my brother, David Horton, they loyally read chapters and provided the inspiration to make the book something they would want to read. Ben Gross was unfailing in his intellectual and technical support, Kim Todd kindly lent me her expertise in creative nonfiction, and Steph Cooper kept me on track with her humor and warmth.
Finally, I am grateful to the many individuals in Fresno County who helped me through the process of research and writing. And I am grateful to Judith Barker for first hiring me on the project on oral health that brought me to the Central Valley, and for her mentorship and thoughtful analysis. Most important, I am grateful to the many farmworking men and women of Mendota who gave me their time, extended me their hospitality, and trusted me with their life experiences. This book owes its existence to their remarkable stories. To protect their privacy and confidentiality, I can only mention them by pseudonym.
Writing is an imperfect mirror of reality, and I regret that these pages can offer but a limited glimpse of their struggles and a hint of their dignity. If this book fails to move the reader, it is indeed my fault alone. As his coworker later stated in a brief filed by the United Farm Workers union UFW , the labor contractor had allowed his workers only half the legally required thirty-minute lunch break. For more than two hours, the foreman set a pace that required the crew to pick six buckets of peppers every fifteen minutes.
Other workers skipped pepper plants to keep up with the tractor, but not Salud. Near the end of the day, Salud confided in Soledad that he felt ill and needed to quit. Instead, she later told the reporter, he began pacing back and forth as though delirious. Just minutes before the end of the day, he approached his foreman as if to say something but simply sank into his arms. The crew carried Salud to the shade provided by an adjacent orchard and tried to give him water.
Yet shortly after the ambulance arrived, the man they called the machine had expired. Three other farmworkers died at work during a three-week period that July in which the temperature exceeded degrees every day. On July 14, the body of a melon picker was found next to a patch of ripe cantaloupes in Fresno County.
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A week later, the body of a deceased grape picker was found in Kern County, crouched beneath a grapevine; his brother later reported that he was attempting to take shelter from the sun. It is well known that farm work places workers at a high risk of heat illness. Their work outdoors, sometimes without easy access to shade, exposes them to direct sunlight. The physical exertion of farm work contributes to their production of excess body heat, even as the clothing they wear to protect their skin from sun damage makes it more difficult for them to cool off by sweating.
Observing that half as many farmworkers died from heat that summer alone as during the previous fifteen years, for example, the president of the UFW suggested that the prolonged Central Valley heat wave. Heat waves, a phenomenon exacerbated by global climate change, disproportionately affect the most vulnerable members of society. Heatstroke is the leading cause of work-related death for farmworkers. Members of this occupational group bear a higher risk of heatstroke than outdoor workers in any other industry, including construction.
Surveys suggest that farmworkers being paid by contract—that is, based on their productivity—may be more likely to forgo breaks than those being paid by the hour. An emerging body of literature examines the social and political organization of natural disasters such as heat waves and—arguably—heat deaths.
He suggests that although heat deaths may initially appear to be isolated, chance, and extreme events, their very excessiveness lays bare the underlying social pathologies of which they are symptomatic. I argue that for migrant men, heat simply catalyzes a chain reaction waiting to happen: for Salud, it set in motion a socially organized catastrophe that had been generated by myriad public policies.
Indeed, work itself—which produces such heat deaths—is presumably a voluntary activity. It is therefore common for journalists to wonder and the public to ask, why did Salud keep working? Did he not recognize that he was suffering from heat illness? A growing literature in the occupational health sciences employs this focus on individual decision making in its attempts to reduce heat illness among farmworkers. Emphasizing the need for health education and health promotion, the literature tends to portray heat illness as the result of poor knowledge and faulty choices.
The theoretical model informing such studies emphasizes a rational individual actor who carefully weighs the pros and cons before engaging in any particular behavior. Our dominant framework for understanding illness and death chalks up the risks migrants face to their own personal failings, reassuringly implying that illness and accident lie within personal control. As the critical medical anthropologist Paul Farmer has trenchantly observed, this framing uncritically assumes the unfettered agency of vulnerable populations, endowing their behaviors with a misplaced sense of autonomy.
Farmer first developed this critique in his analysis of the structural violence that constrains the treatment options of poor residents living with infectious disease in countries such as Peru and Haiti. Ann Suk rated it it was amazing Jan 04, Madison rated it it was amazing Jul 02, Isia Wieczorek rated it really liked it Oct 03, Amasa rated it it was amazing Feb 06, Missy rated it it was amazing Apr 20, Carolyn Carlisle rated it it was amazing Apr 25, Maria rated it it was amazing Nov 07, Chris Schmitt rated it liked it Jun 23, Ryan rated it it was amazing Sep 19, Thomas rated it really liked it Apr 29, Julie rated it it was amazing Oct 22, Emily Tarrant rated it it was amazing Jan 28, William Lopez rated it it was amazing May 28, Morgan Snoap rated it liked it Feb 17, Kim Kulesza rated it really liked it Dec 11, Kalliope Bessler rated it liked it Jul 22, Megan Rectanus rated it really liked it Feb 12, Julie rated it really liked it Jan 06, Parker Brockman rated it it was amazing May 15, Nana Park rated it it was amazing Aug 27, Mar 23, Mills College Library added it.
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