OUR article available in SIGNS

How exciting, the article that Kerry Preibisch and I wrote for SIGNS is now available…


The Other Side of el Otro Lado: Mexican Migrant Women and Labor Flexibility in Canadian Agriculture

Kerry L. Preibisch

Evelyn Encalada Grez

Department of Sociology and Anthropology
University of Guelph (Preibisch)

Sociology and Equity Studies in Education, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
University of Toronto (Encalada Grez)


Global restructuring is dramatically reshaping how women and men around the world relate to agriculture. While gender analysis has been central to research on labor?intensive, corporate agriculture in the global South, it is rarely invoked in the literature exploring these trends in the North. Moreover, research on gender in agriculture in high?income countries has tended to focus on women in family farms, despite extensive restructuring of the sector that has increased demands for waged laborers. This article speaks to these limitations by tracing the incorporation of Mexican women into the Canadian agricultural sector as temporary migrant workers. In exploring the lived realities of these women, it reveals workplaces characterized by highly gendered, racialized employment relations and illustrates how temporary migrant worker programs further entrench existing structures of labor segmentation in agriculture. While temporary migrant worker programs have brought greater flexibility into the Canadian agricultural labor market by enabling a particular set of employment practices that rest on gendered, racialized subjectivities, these processes are by no means uncontested by the actors they seek to command.

  • We are grateful to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for funding through Rural Women Making Change and a Standard Research Grant (K. Preibisch, 410?2006?0122). We thank Dr. Belinda Leach and two anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments on earlier drafts. Finally, we thank the Mexican women who so generously gave of their time to bravely share their experiences and insights with us.

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