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TitleGlobal Heartland: Displaced Labor, Transnational Lives, and Local Placemaking
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Page 2

GLOBAL

HEARTLAND

Page 155

138 Ou tsou rce d L i v e s

to send sustenance for the family. �ey had spent almost six million CFA
francs ($11,000) for the two of them to come to the United States, raising the
money by selling her land and borrowing from family, friends, and a lender
who demanded 100 percent interest, and while they had repaid almost all
debts, their living was still precarious. Sena shook her head: “You see I have to
work, have to keep going, I must.” I asked if her health was ok. She responded,
“No! I have pain everywhere,” then repeated with emphasis, “ev- reeee- where,
but must be going to work, how could I not?”

In Beardstown, I interviewed many Togolese families who faced the same
pressures as Sena, having also le� behind members of their nuclear family.
In Togo, I spoke with more families who took care of Cargill workers’ children
and other relatives. Marie was another one of the latter. A single mother of a
two- year- old, she had also been taking care of her brother’s baby since he and
his wife le� for Beardstown. When I visited Marie almost a year a�er their
emigration, she was breast- feeding her brother’s baby while talking with me.
�ough he and his wife were sending her what amounted to $30 monthly,
Marie felt deeply how hard it had been for them to leave their newborn be-
hind. “�ey wanted to be able to both work as soon as they got there so that
they could provide for the child . . . and pay for money they owe. If they took
the baby, that would have been di�cult. . . . It was hard. It is hard.”

�is strategy of restructuring house holds and performing care work transna-
tionally plays an important role in the ability of an immigrant workforce to raise
a family on Cargill wages. One might say that in these scenarios, the care work
for Togolese workers at Cargill is outsourced to their communities of origin,
where the work is performed at a much lower cost. By raising Cargill workers’
children, Emefa, Djidonou, and Marie were in e
ect subsidizing Cargill wages
and by extension the Beardstown economy. Indeed, there is an army of people
in the immigrants’ communities of origin, with women at the center, doing the
care work for Cargill’s Togolese workers. But their contribution is invisible to
the public and seldom noted in remittance- focused discourse of immigration.

Gl oba l Cr i b a n d I n fi r m a ry: R e- Spat i a li zi ng
Li fe- C ycl e Stage s

To cover their families’ expenses, groups of immigrants use di
erent strate-
gies. Among Mexicans workers, the likelihood of having their nuclear family

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Gl oba l R e st ruct u r i ng of Soci a l R eproduct ion 139

with them is greater than among West Africans. Of the Mexicans sampled
in Beardstown, 84 percent of those who were parents had all their children
with them, as opposed to 33 percent of West Africans.6 Nonetheless, Mexican
workers have also restructured and outsourced aspects of their care work
to their communities of origin.

I return here to 2008 and my visit to Numaran with Lupita. We had been
walking around the plaza for a few minutes that morning when we came
across a group of older men talking under the generous shade of a �cus tree
(see �gure 6.2). When I told Lupita that I was wondering whether some of
them had worked in the United States, she set o
to �nd out. “Señores! Per-
donen me!” she said as she approached. Being young and attractive probably
helped Lupita get their attention, and when she explained what I was doing,
they happily agreed to answer my questions.

Of the ten men in the group, nine raised their hands when I asked if any had
worked “el Norte.” �e one who had not, they said, was a cacique, the name
for a member of the agrarian elite who are known for po liti cal corruption;
their intimation was that a cacique did not need to emigrate to earn a living.

�e men who had worked in the Unites States told me that they had done
so for most of their adult lives but had had to return to Michoacán because
they could no longer �nd jobs in the competitive U.S. labor market. In ad-
dition, one man’s hand had a tremor, what seemed to be symptoms of early
Parkinson’s disease; another explained that he hurt his back in construction
work and could no longer do what he used to do. For the most part, they all
agreed, they were no longer competitive in the day laborers’ market. “No one
would pick us up,” one said. When I asked if any of them planned to move
back to the United States, one smiled and said, “Ya no nos querían” (“they
wouldn’t want us anymore”). He was standing next to a young boy who was
perhaps eleven or twelve years old. He placed his hand on the boys’ shoulder
and said, “It is now his turn.”

Another man pointed at the youth and said, “He will also go to el Norte
and come back like us when he is old. Give him another two or three years,
he will be gone.” I invited the man who made this statement to tell me a bit
more. He referred to the high school in Morelia, capital of the state, and
explained: “High school is the training ground for border crossing. �at is
where they learn where to cross, where not to; which coyotes to trust or not
to; how much to pay; how to pay. . . . �ey seldom �nish the segundaria [high

Page 309

292 i n de x

tax increment fund (TIF) districts, 253n16
taxes, 172–174
Tejaro, Michoacán: emptiness of, 83, 86–88;

ethnographic work in, 10, 11; immigra-
tion’s effect on, 91; migrant workers from,
84–88; population of, 247n7; remittances
to, 254–255n23. See also Michoacán

Thompson, Jim, 49
Thompson, Scott, 64
“Three for One” program, 239n49
Time Magazine, 66–67
Togo, 94fig.; accumulation of global capital

in, 126; and brain waste, 108–111; colonial
history of, 249n1; first wave of diaspora,
250–251n15; in global economy, 101–105;
and lottery visas, 106–108; remittances
sent to, 104–105; as supplier of labor, 241n9.
See also Lomé, Togo; West Africans

Togoland, 249n1
trade, in history of Beardstown, 32–34
Transition and Bilingual Education model

(TBE), 190–191, 259n11
transnational care work, 18, 134–138, 141, 152
transnational families, 15, 130fig., 145–147,

150–152, 214
transnational imagination, 22, 134, 141,

147–150, 214
transnational practices, 22, 134, 156–157, 211,

223
Tsing, Anna, 15
two-way language immersion (TWI), 191–192,

202–203, 207, 219, 235n6. See also Dual
Language Program (DLP)

undocumented workers: and Cargill plant
raid, 65–67, 245n9; exploitation of,
178–179; workers’ compensation for, 171

union(s): in Beardstown, 34–35; at Beard-
stown Oscar Mayer plant, 48–49; at Car-
gill plant, 169–170, 180–181; in meatpack-
ing industry, 46; and transformation of
meatpacking industry, 47–48

United Food and Commercial Workers
(UFCW), 47, 48–49, 169–170, 180–181

United Packinghouse Workers of America
(UPWA), 46, 47

urban boom and bust, 121–124
U.S. Agency for International Development

(USAID), 103
U.S.–Mexico railroad, 89

van Kempen, Ronald, 239n53
verbal abuse, 178
visas, procuring, 137–138. See also Diversity

Visa; lottery visas
voices, recovery of repressed, 210–211

wages: at Cargill plant, 57, 236n14; in meat-
packing industry, 47–48, 51–52

Walker, Lynne, 55–56
Walters, Robert, 49, 67, 201, 202, 245n6
“warm chains,” 155–156
Warren, Wilson, 241n10
welfare state, 155, 254n21
West Africans: in Beardstown’s racial-

ized hierarchy, 72–74, 222; children and
childcare among, 199–200; and claiming
public space, 195–196; debt and family
obligations of, 144–147; and emigration
as people’s public policy, 153; and employ-
ment in Alaska, 183–185; and guilt, shame
and pride associated with immigration,
142–143; inclusion of, 187–188, 202; in-
crease in immigration to U.S., 105; moti-
vations for immigration, 105–106; rate of
homeownership among, 259n5; reception
of, in Beardstown, 70–72; recruited by
Cargill Corporation, 62–65; and residen-
tial integration, 188–189. See also Lomé,
Togo; Togo

Western Union, 82, 100fig.
white native-born workers, viability of wages

of, 150–151
white supremacists, 58–62
Woodrick, Anne, 60
workers’ compensation, 166, 171, 255n14
workplace safety, 162, 169–170
work-related health problems, 166–172
Wright, Erik, 246n14

Zedillo administration, 91
Zeleza, Paul, 105–106, 250n14

Page 310

far anak mir aftab is Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at the
University of Illinois, Urbana- Champaign. Her interdisciplinary work in critical
planning, human geography, and transnational studies concerns the grassroots
struggle for digni�ed livelihood and citizenship and is empirically based in
marginalized communities of Latin America, Africa, and North America.
Her most recent publications include Cities and Inequalities in a Global and
Neoliberal World (edited with David Wilson and Ken Salo, 2015); and Cities
of the Global South Reader (edited with Neema Kudva, 2014).

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