CSI Associate Professor of Anthropology Ismael García-Colón has recently published Colonial Migrants at the Heart of Empire: Puerto Rican Workers on U.S. Farms (University of California Press, February 2020).
A labor history and an ethnography, Colonial Migrants evokes the violence, fieldwork, food, lodging, surveillance, and coercion that these workers experienced on farms and conveys their hopes and struggles to overcome poverty. Island farmworkers encountered a unique form of prejudice and racism arising from their dual status as both U.S. citizens and as “foreign others,” and their experiences were further shaped by evolving immigration policies. Despite these challenges, many Puerto Rican farmworkers ultimately chose to settle in rural U.S. communities, contributing to the production of food and the Latinization of the U.S. farm labor force.
“Colonial Migrants at the Heart of Empire brilliantly examines the experience of Puerto Rican migrant farmworkers in the United States within an immigration regimen that categorizes them as racially inferior citizens and inefficient, expensive workers. Relying on a thick historical ethnography, it bridges the study of labor, colonialism, immigration, and race. This is scholarship at its best!”—Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, author of Racism without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in America.