Migrant Farmworkers during the COVID-19 pandemic: The Paradox of being Essential and Vulnerable

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The Ohio State University

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The status of migrant Farmworkers in Immokalee, Florida during the pandemic created a paradox: they are both essential and vulnerable as their work remained necessary, but they were provided no protection. Longstanding social and economic inequalities were intensified with the virus and more vulnerabilities were created for the farmworkers, while the country continued to rely on the fruits of their labor. This thesis provides background in the history of migrant farmworkers in Immokalee and the continuation and increased vulnerabilities seen during the pandemic despite being essential as they provide the nation's food. The thesis then interrogates this paradox by examining the roots of the state's exploitative situation, such as the racialization of Latinx and legality status, and how this exploitation leads to the accumulation of labor and wealth. The thesis then examines the idea social reproduction necessary to continue production and the idea of transnationalism that expands the issue beyond the country's boundary. More precisely, this thesis examines a large source of the food supply of the country which is obtained through exploitative labor that positions farmworkers in highly vulnerable situations, whose lethal potential was made evident by the COVID-19 outbreak.



Migrant Farmworkers, COVID-19, Transnationalism, Racial Capitalism