Cover

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Title Page, Series Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-viii

Contents

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pp. ix-x

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xiv

A number of people have helped to shape this book since its inception nearly a decade ago. Many colleagues were generous with their time and expertise, commenting on the manuscript and nudging it toward completion. Louise Lamphere has been a consistent mentor, and I am...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-16

Salud Zamudio Rodriguez, a forty-two-year-old undocumented farmworker from Michoacán, sparked a legislative firestorm when he met an untimely end one summer afternoon in California’s Central Valley in 2005.1 On a July day when the temperature soared to 105 degrees...

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1. Burning Up: Heat Illness in California’s Fields

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pp. 17-45

Why do farmworkers die in the fields? On the highway in the Central Valley in the summer of 2013, the state’s answer to this question is prominently displayed. As I drive, the wizened face and torso of a female farmworker loom into view on an oversized billboard. As she rests under...

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2. Entering Farm Work: Migration and Men’s Work Identities

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pp. 46-71

Manuel, who came to Mendota from Mexico in 1988 at the age of sixteen, remembers his first days of farm work very clearly. He came to the United States as an undocumented migrant with his father, Don Santiago, who himself had migrated to California’s Central Valley each...

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3. Ghost Workers: The Labor Consequences of Identity Loan

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pp. 72-95

Elisabeta, an undocumented migrant farmworker from Jalisco, Mexico, learned the perils of being a ghost worker the hard way. Two years after arriving in the United States, she was topping onion plants. “There’s a flower that grows above the onion, and it has spines. And one of those...

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4. Presión Alta: The Physiological Toll of Farm Work

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pp. 96-123

Less than two years apart, Sulema and Yadira, both under the age of forty, were hospitalized with presión alta, or hypertension. They joined Elisabeta, another undocumented woman and core research participant, who had been diagnosed with hypertension at the age of twenty-four...

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5. Álvaro’s Casket: Heat Illness and Chronic Disease at Work

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pp. 124-147

One afternoon in July 2012, I travel to a town south of Fresno to speak with a small contractor, Humberto, about heat deaths. So far this year, there has been one death in California’s fields that has been conclusively ruled as due to heat; several others are being investigated. I ask Humberto...

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6. Desabilitado: Kidney Disease and the Disability-Assistance Hole

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pp. 148-172

When Don Ramón, fifty-two years old, reflects on the past, he thinks that maybe the reason he is now desabilitado (disabled) dates all the way back to the mid-1980s—the heyday of melon harvesting in the Valley—when he used to pick melon by contract. We are sitting in...

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Conclusion: Strategies for Change

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pp. 173-184

At the start of my research in the Central Valley in 2005, I rarely heard of any state or federal agencies visiting the fields to monitor workers’ health and safety. “The Valley is a different world,” one workers’ compensation attorney from the central coast told me. Agricultural supervisors...

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Appendix A. On Engaged Anthropology and Ethnographic Writing

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pp. 185-190

Although I first came to Mendota with the objective of studying children’s oral health, I soon found that my interlocutors had other ideas for me. The men and women I met were often puzzled over my intense interest in their children’s mouths. They had many other agendas—related both to research and to the simple...

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Appendix B. Methods

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pp. 191-194

To write this book, I followed the lives, work circumstances, and health status of eight farmworking women and seven farmworking men over nearly a decade. (The husband of one woman was deported early in my research.) At the start of my project, eight of my participants had legal permanent residency...

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Appendix C. Core Research Participants

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pp. 195-200

This appendix provides a sketch of the families of the core interviewees whom I have followed since 2005, including details of their migration and work histories, health problems, income, and access to benefits. Their stories are up to date as of 2015, and names of family members mentioned in the text are italicized on...

Notes

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pp. 201-220

References

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pp. 221-240

Index

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pp. 241-250