Globalization, the State, and the Creation of Flexible Indigenous Workers: Mixtec Farmworkers in Oregon (Working Paper #36)

Lynn Stephen, University of Oregon

Introduction: While differences between Mexican migrant households have frequently been discussed in terms of income, race, place or origin, and patterns of migration, little work has focused on stratification within migrant households based on gender, legal status, and age. We cannot assume joint decision-making and internal democracy in the households of migrant laborers. If gender, age, and legal stratification affects the experience of migrants outside the household, why wouldn’t it have an impact inside? In the discussion that follows, the experiences of Oaxacan Mixtecs in Baja California, California, and Oregon are explored to underline the heterogeneity of the migrant experience in the U.S. and to establish the importance of exploring inequality within migrant households, particularly in relation to gender and the co-existence of different legal statuses within the same household. The case study of Mixtec migrants is also used to explore how the flexibility of capital is supported by states through free trade agreements and immigration and labor policies. These actions on the part of states continue to affect the cultural logic and construction of gender, ethnic, labor, and family relations–the contexts in which flexible citizens live.

Working Paper #36ยป