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This talk interrogates the private lives of migrant men who participated in the Bracero Program (1942–1964), a binational agreement between the United States and Mexico that allowed hundreds of thousands of Mexican workers to enter this country on temporary work permits. While this program and the issue of temporary workers has long been politicized on both sides of the border, Dr. Loza argues that the prevailing romanticized image of braceros as a family-oriented, productive, legal
workforce has obscured the real, diverse experiences of the workers themselves. Focusing on underexplored aspects of workers’ lives--such as their transnational union-organizing efforts, the sexual economies of both hetero and queer workers, and the ethno-racial boundaries among Mexican indigenous braceros—this research reveals how these men defied perceived political, sexual, and racial norms.
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Mireya Loza is an Associate Professor in the Department of History and the American Studies Program at Georgetown University. Her areas of research include Latinx History, Labor History and Food Studies. Her book, Defiant Braceros: How Migrant Workers Fought for Racial, Sexual and Political Freedom (UNC Press), examines the Bracero Program and how guest workers negotiated the intricacies of indigeneity, intimacy, and transnational organizing. She is currently carrying out research for her second book project tentatively title, The Strangeness and Bitterness of Plenty: Making Food and Seeing Race in the Agricultural West, 1942-1965. Her first book won the 2017 Theodore Saloutos Book Prize awarded by the Immigration and Ethnic History Society and the Smithsonian Secretary’s Research Prize. Her research has been funded by the Ford Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Smithsonian’s Latino Center. Prior to joining the faculty at Georgetown University, she taught in the Department of Food Studies at New York University and was a curator at the National Museum of American History.
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