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Spaces of Labor Activism, Mexican‐American Women and the Farm Worker Movement in South Texas Since 1966

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Abstract:

This paper studies the farm worker unionization experience and the historical development of Mexican‐American women's activism in South Texas to elaborate more precisely the relationship among socio‐spatial practices, political activism and labor's geography. Drawing upon archival documents and interviews, the paper describes how Mexican‐American farm workers used public space for political activity; however, radical unionization efforts also domesticized other spaces for women's activities. The paper chronicles how Mexican‐American women in South Texas transformed the farm worker center from a “domesticated space” into one of empowerment. In short, women in the union made the farm worker center into a space that challenged both the class‐based structure of larger South Texas society and masculinist practices within the larger farm worker movement. The analysis advances the imperative to better understand how workers “make space” to ensure their own survival. The paper advances the study of labor geography by arguing that working class mobilization reconstitutes dynamic social geographies within laboring communities themselves. In arguing this point, the paper illustrates the limitations of activism based solely on the use of public space and argues for more attention to the significance of other socio‐political spaces for labor mobilization.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0066-4812.2005.00521.x

Affiliations: Department of Geography, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA;, Email: wjepson@geog.tamu.edu

Publication date: 2005-09-01

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