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academic work

Specialization: Labour Migration, Community Organising, Latin American Studies, Latina Feminisms

Dissertation::::Authored Courses::::Gender Module::::

Distinctions and Highlights

  • Profiled by “This Magazine” as an Activist Professor in the “People Doing Good Things” February/January 2016 issue
  • Awarded the distinction as one of the most influential Latin American-Canadians for academic and community work in the last 15 years by “Correo Canadiense” Spanish language newspaper, October 13, 2016
  • Nominated for the “Ian Greene Teaching Excellence Award”, York University, 2011-2012
  • Contributed and featured in the most important films about migrant workers in Canada, “El Contrato” (National Film Board) and “Migrant Dreams” (TVO) directed by Min Sook Lee
  • Founding Member of “Justicia/Justice for Migrant Workers” that has won prestigious community awards such as the Association of Community Legal Clinics of Ontario-“Community Champion Award” (2011) and the JS Woodworth Award, March 21, 2011: “For Justicia for Migrant Workers' outstanding commitment to advancing the rights of visible minorities and immigrants, and eliminating racial discrimination”
  • Invited to speak at the United Nations in observance of the First International Day of Rural Women, New York, October 16, 2008
  • Profiled as a “Change Maker” by Rural Woman Making Change, “Forced Migration and Belonging: Growing Up in Two Worlds, 2008
  • “Opening Doors” Community Youth Award, Centre for Spanish Speaking Peoples, Toronto, 2001


Dissertation Title:

Mexican Women Organizing
Love, Life and Work:
Transnational Storytelling from
Rural Mexico and Canada

My dissertation is dedicated with much love and light to

Karen Chanel Aguilar Velazquez
RIP: December 12, 1991- February 25, 2008

& My grandfather/abuelito,
Blas Guillermo Encalada Panz
RIP: February 25, 1915-October 18, 2009


This is a transnational study focusing on Mexican women who form part of the Canadian Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (CSAWP), a temporary visa arrangement that annually employs some 20,000 Mexican and Caribbean migrants in the agricultural industry. Central to this study is the recognition that there are two groups of women who comprise this workforce, those who migrate to work as farm workers in rural Ontario and their non-migrating female kin who perform various reproductive and productive roles in Mexico. In this thesis I detail how women organize themselves around this migration as an extension of diverse household survival strategies, creating what may be called a “transnational family economy”.

Mexican women experience Canada in multiple ways in their diverse positions in transnational labour migration. I explicate how work, love and life in Canada have different meanings and consequences for non-migrant and migrant women. Migrant women’s lives are highly restricted due the gendered racialization they experience in Canada as temporary visa workers. Yet they exercise power in complex ways, including over those left behind who are more often than not situated in a position of co-dependency. Transnationalism also weaves interdependence among women for survival. Gender relations and family composition change and fluctuate according to labour contracts that are dictated by markets, national states and Canadian employers.

This study explores women’s complex roles and positions within transnational labour migration through a methodological practise of “transnational storytelling”. This practise privileges women’s voices and experiences to depict the genealogy of social relations and processes that sustain a particular ‘transnational universe’ around the CSAWP. My study moves beyond the commodification of migrant workers as simply workers to examine their existence as mothers, lovers and women with individual and collective aspirations.
Relying on a multi-year ethnographic study and community organizing work with the Mexican migrant population in rural Ontario and rural Mexico, my study strives to make visible women’s lives at both ends of the migration spectrum. It concludes by translating this knowledge into community and transnational labour organizing strategies to press for structural change to humanize the lives of migrant workers and their families.

Authored Courses

Migrant Workers and Human Rights-created for York University and been teaching this course since 2010 [PDF]

Migration and Displacement Course-created for the Centre for Intercultural Communication at the University of British Columbia-now being offered twice a year online with excellent reviews

This course explores the contradictions and complexities of migration as a form of displacement of peoples across the globe. Consider how contemporary migration is collapsing boundaries and reconfiguring our notions about the “First World” and the “Third World”, thus challenging us to direct our struggle for global justice locally. Explore the root causes of forced migration and how this is directly linked to survival, including the livelihood and well-being of extended families, communities and remittance-dependent economies. Take a critical approach to the different actors involved and approaches to the field by examining present global policies, initiatives and alternatives to forced migration.

Modules and Assignment Overview in pdf
Click for more info:

I developed these two courses for Labour Studies and now must find a place to teach them. The full course syllabi with detailed assingments and readings are available upon request.

I can design excellent courses for Latin American Studies, International Development, Canadian Immigration Policy and Women's Studies among others.

Work and Race-an undergraduate course proposal for 13 weeks [PDF]

Migrant Workers and Transnational Organizing: an undergraduate course proposal for 13 weeks [PDF]

Gender, Migration and Work Teaching Module (in collaboration)
Interantional Secretariat for Human Development, York University, Winter 2007