Geopolitics of Emotion: masculinities and subjectivity in the Canadian Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program

Authors: Linamar Campos-Flores*, , Patricia Martin, Université de Montréal
Topics: Political Geography, Migration, Latin America
Keywords: Emotions, circular migration, masculinities, agricultural transmigrant workers, Temporary Foreign Workers Program
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Roosevelt 5, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


“Men don’t cry” is a powerful expression, which captures, in part, the charged emotional experience of male transmigrant agricultural workers (TAW’s) who circulate annually between Mexico and Canada through the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP). To date, most studies that examine the relationship between transnational migration and emotion address women’s struggles and the consequences of their absence from home (Hochschild 2003, McKay 2007, Merla y Baldassar, 2010, 2016, Svašek y Skrbiš 2008, Brooks & Simpson 2013). Yet, the social migratory fields through male transmigrants move year after year also demand difficult, and often unrecognized, 'emotional labour'. Drawing on material from interviews, focus groups, and visual ethnography, this paper seeks to explore the shifting terrain of “masculine” emotional geographies both in the agricultural fields in Québec and their communities of origin. We argue that the SWAP, which recruits almost exclusively male heads of household, produces a very particular form of masculinity; emotions, in turn, serve as an important tool in the control over the movement and behaviour of these workers. We finish by examining how individual male workers negotiate these fields of power through time and space, as they actively engage in emotional work to rearticulate a sense of self-worth and subjectivity.

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