Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies: Migrant Farmworkers in the United States

Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies: Migrant Farmworkers in the United States

Seth Holmes / May 25, 2019

Fresh Fruit Broken Bodies Migrant Farmworkers in the United States Fresh Fruit Broken Bodies provides an intimate examination of the everyday lives and suffering of Mexican migrants in our contemporary food system An anthropologist and MD in the mold of Paul Farmer

  • Title: Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies: Migrant Farmworkers in the United States
  • Author: Seth Holmes
  • ISBN: 9780520275140
  • Page: 134
  • Format: Paperback
  • Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies provides an intimate examination of the everyday lives and suffering of Mexican migrants in our contemporary food system An anthropologist and MD in the mold of Paul Farmer and Didier Fassin, Holmes shows how market forces, anti immigrant sentiment, and racism undermine health and health care Holmes s material is visceral and powerful He trekkFresh Fruit, Broken Bodies provides an intimate examination of the everyday lives and suffering of Mexican migrants in our contemporary food system An anthropologist and MD in the mold of Paul Farmer and Didier Fassin, Holmes shows how market forces, anti immigrant sentiment, and racism undermine health and health care Holmes s material is visceral and powerful He trekked with his companions illegally through the desert into Arizona and was jailed with them before they were deported He lived with indigenous families in the mountains of Oaxaca and in farm labor camps in the U.S planted and harvested corn, picked strawberries, and accompanied sick workers to clinics and hospitals This embodied anthropology deepens our theoretical understanding of the ways in which social inequalities and suffering come to be perceived as normal and natural in society and in health care All of the book award money and royalties from the sales of this book have been donated to farm worker unions, farm worker organizations and farm worker projects in consultation with farm workers who appear in the book.

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      • Seth Holmes

        Seth Holmes Is a well-known author, some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies: Migrant Farmworkers in the United States book, this is one of the most wanted Seth Holmes author readers around the world.


    270 Comments

    1. This ethnographic study of indigenous Mexican migrant farm workers in Washington state exposes the structural and symbolic violence such workers face. Holmes carefully enumerates the ways that the racialized hierarchies of agricultural labor are naturalized. The author is a medical anthropologist and as such reveals a particular concern with public health issues. The book starts with an incredibly compelling first person narrative of the author crossing the border with his undocumented subjects. [...]


    2. Read this for my Intro to Anthropology class. A very well done ethnography that forces a critical examination of the work of migrant labourers who enable many people to purchase produce at not-exorbitant prices, as well as the structural and symbolic violences against them.


    3. In Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies Seth M. Holmes uses his extensive fieldwork amidst the Triqui people to paint us a rather depressing picture of the US agricultural sector and US border policy in general. Trained as both an MD and an anthropologist Holmes gives us a dual perspective that blends medical positivism with the anthropological knack for data interpretation and ferreting out hidden ties and patterns. The book is at its best when Holmes is narrating. The man seems destined for a career as [...]


    4. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about the situation of the ~1.5 million undocumented farmworkers in the US. The most compelling parts were those in which he talked about the interaction of the farmworkers with the medical system. No surprise: the healthcare providers turn out to be clueless and complicit, even the best-intentioned among them. It's in these sections that he manages to draw on his training as a doctor and an anthropologist to develop (what seems to [...]


    5. I am very glad I read this, and highly recommend it. It is an anthropological ethnography with many voices in it that we don't often hear (from Oaxacan Triqui pickers to other people in the agricultural and farm work industry), but whom we are intimately connected to every time we eat. It both confirmed and challenged many of my assumptions. I appreciated the public health focus, the context of migration and supposed individual choice, commentary on linguistic choices we make when discussing imm [...]


    6. Really good "thick ethnography" of Trique migrant workers' connected stays in CA, WA and Oaxaca, most work in WA in strawberry fields. Not a direct emphasis on the field I'm more familiar with, engagement with, current food policy issues, but lots, in terms of immigration and the workers he got to know. Ch 2 and 3 on embodied knowledge & segregated workplace would be awesome for teaching, on both structural racism/s and white privilege. Also, the methodology section on why there is no "metho [...]


    7. Incredibly moving and thought provoking. Radically shifted my understanding of migrant labor and the grounds for social change.His commentary and mention of Bourdieu's concept of "symbolic violence" is extremely eye-opening and highly relevant to the issue of migrant health and more broadly the high-horsed American "debate" on illegal immigration. His book does a powerful job expounding on how the American agriculture industry completely depends on migrant labor while simultaneously accepting ra [...]



    8. Fantastic. One of the best ethnographies I've ever come across; this has motivated me to contemplate what types of advocacy I can do in order to support this population. It will blow you away.


    9. Incredible ethnographical portrait of migrant farmworker issues in the US today, particularly of those faced by Triqui and other indigenous migrant groups from Mexico. Seth Holmes unfolds complex binds in our economic and agricultural system through an embodied ethnography--in much the same way Paul Farmer advocates for "accompaniment" of the poor. Holmes explores the structural violence present in NAFTA (which is a major driver in destabilizing indigenous Mexican corn-farming families), in the [...]


    10. Impactful ethnography. Seth Holmes enters the world of Mexican seasonal migrants, and it's every bit as brutal as you'd imagine it to be. The book is at its best when Holmes places himself in the middle of the narrative, sharing how he experienced the border crossing coyotes, the exhaustion from fruit picking and the work hierarchy that he went on to place a particular role in. There's no issue of accessibility. The book is written so that a wide audience can gain insight into the dire migration [...]


    11. Issues surrounding undocumented migration to the United States have been the subjects of heated debate in the American political system for decades. As Seth Holmes explains, however, there is a sense of irony in the fact that policymakers often contribute to the structures that perpetuate undocumented labor migration and legitimize the resulting social inequalities. These inequalities and the embodied suffering that coincide become normalized, Holmes argues, often remaining unnoticed by those at [...]


    12. Excellent work, but wish he had incorporated a gender analysis. At times it is clear he is discussing a group of only men but other times he briefly touches on women's experiences of pregnancy/child birth. Being more explicit about how gender shaped the logics he discusses (and structural violence) would have strengthened his argument. However, super readable and heartbreaking account.


    13. Some quick thoughts: My only criticism with this book is that it is overly academic and jargony, which makes it less accessible, but I expected that. I would have liked to have heard more about his experiences in the Central Valley, but understand why he wasn't able to focus as much on that region. I want to read more books like this.


    14. Incredibly eye-opening. Raises a lot of thought-provoking questions about how we can change so we're not implicitly contributing to the structural violence of our unjust social hierarchy. Everyone should read.




    15. So eye-opening to the migrant experience. This ethnography has altered my perspective towards the US heath system, "race", and heath disparities. WOW! ❤️🍓


    16. A dull and disappointing book that focuses more on the lives of a few specific individuals rather than a study of migrant farmworkers.




    17. A look into migrant farming with a special interest into Triqui people as they live day to day being forced to migrate from their home of Oaxaca to the West coast. The book takes a hard look at structural violence and the assumptions people make that normalize and internalize their circumstance.


    18. This is an awesome work of medical anthropology, in the spirit of writers like Paul Farmer and Philippe Bourgois. Holmes comes to know, live, and work with the indigenous Triqui people from the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, many of whom are forced by global socioeconomic conditions to migrate to the United States to work on farms. He works with them (as well as indigenous Mixtec, and mestizo Mexican workers) on berry farms in Washington state and California, spends time with them in their home of San [...]


    19. I don't give many books 5 stars but this one, yes. This has been a subject that has been of interest to me in recent years, especially since reading online about the horrors that Hispanics go through in the fields. I have even read a few other books on this subject, but no book has really gone into it as deeply as this one or at least none that I have read Seth Holmes is an anthropologist who is also studying to become a medical doctor, if he hasn't gotten his degree by now. He went down to Oaxa [...]


    20. Very powerful ethnographic study of Triqui migrants (from Southern Oaxaca, Mexico) who wreck their bodies so that we can have cheap fresh berries. Seth Homes is both a medical doctor and an anthropologist who lives and works with the Triqui both as they labor to pick fruit in Washington and as they migrate south to pick in California; he also lives with them in Oaxaca, Mexico and attempts to cross the desert with them into the US. I have assigned this in my high school anthropology class and the [...]


    21. In Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies: Migrant Farmworkers in the United States, medical anthropologist and physician, Seth Holmes, reveals through poignant thick description the life experiences, structural inputs, and health outcomes of Triqui migrant farmworkers. Best described by his fellow fruit picker, Samuel, as a project in which “he wants to experience for himself how the poor suffer” (33), Holmes chronicles Triqui experiences as they live in Oaxaca, risk their lives crossing the U.S.-Mexic [...]


    22. A light read that is accessible to the general public, Holmes' book ingeniously weaves together insights from sociology and cultural anthropology to dissect the structural forces that have shaped the livelihoods of indigenous Mexican farmworkers in Western United States. The opening chapter is particularly captivating and effective: through a series of vignettes denoting his traumatic experiences crossing the border "illegally" alongside informants, Holmes manages to convince the audience of the [...]


    23. Wanting to learn about the lives of migrant farmworkers as both an anthropologist (he was in grad school) and a doctor (he was in med school). So his fieldwork was literally in the fields, mostly harvesting strawberries in Washington's Whatcom County, but also working in California's Central Valley. He got to know Triqui laborers (indigenous people from Oaxaca), and traveled and lived with them. The book's first chapter has a riveting account of their migration from Oaxaca to and across the U.S. [...]


    24. Everyone should read this book. There's so much to say about it; it's theoretically and practically relevant to many issues and disciplines; it appears to have been written with lots of integrity; it is extremely engaging and readable, I found its discussions of theory quite accessible, and it's short (201 pages). I particularly appreciated how well he formed, founded, and articulated an argument for structural analysis in public health; usually calls for this extremely important education don't [...]


    25. We know that our food is artificially cheap. At some abstract level we know there's suffering involved. Holmes beautifully lets us see and almost feel what that suffering is really like: the terror of the border crossing, the social circumstances that make it necessary; the back-neck-knee-and-body-breaking misery of picking strawberries seven days a week for unending hours; waking to rainfall as condensed breath drips from your uninsulated ceiling; the humiliation and insults and violence. Seth [...]


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