Contestations of the heart: Mexican migrant women and transnational loving from rural Ontario
by Evelyn Encalada Grez
International Journal of Migration and Border Studies (IJMBS), Vol. 5, No. 1/2, 2019

Abstract: Canada's temporary foreign worker programs (TFWPs) structure flexible labour regimes that provide 'just-in-time' workers for select industries. Through these programs, workers are commodified into units of production with minimal rights and excessive restrictions on their comportment. In this paper I focus on the restrictions placed on migrant women's bodies, desires, and sexualities through the long- standing Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP). Based on 16 years of community engaged research in rural Canada and Mexico, I demonstrate that from the point of recruitment in Mexico, to their encounters with Canadian employers, to the seasons of life and work between rural Canada and rural Mexico, migrant women are barred from fully expressing love, desire, and sexualities. I delve into contestations of the heart and argue that the love and desire that migrant women assert are among the many forms of resistance to their commodification within a coercive labour and immigration regime that favours production over reproductions of love and affection. I argue that social justice projects must account for the frontiers of the heart and the right to love beyond borders to be fully emancipatory.

Online publication date: Tue, 14-May-2019

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