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Title:Class, labor, and color hierarchies: an ethnographic study of Mexican yarderos/as in South Chicago
Author(s):Lemus, Sergio
Director of Research:Lugo, Alejandro
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Lugo, Alejandro
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Inda, Jonathan X.; Rosas, Gilberto; Manalansan, Martin F.
Department / Program:Anthropology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Color: Capitalism
Color Inspections
Abstract:In 1916, the first wave of Mexican immigrants arrived in South Chicago. Despite shortage of housing, food, and work, the South Chicago colony grew in size to become one of the key destinations of thousands of Mexican immigrants in the twentieth century. In the late 1980s, triggered by a neoliberal restructuring in Mexico and the United States, many more Mexicans migrated to Chicago, Illinois. With the decreasing of industrial work in the City of Chicago, Mexicans were forced to enter a growing service sector that gave rise to the lawn maintenance and landscaping service industry. But more importantly, this yard work—las yardas—gave rise to a new working class population that is proud of their work, culture, and form of life—los yareros/as. This dissertation, entitled "Class, Labor, and Color Hierarchies: An Ethnographic Study of Mexican Yarderos/as in South Chicago," documents the everyday lives of Mexican, working class immigrants who despite leaving their land behind, struggling to find work, and facing class and color discrimination for being from a working class background, ---found a home in Mexican Chicago. This study is based on sixteen months of ethnographic research performing participant observation with two lawn care service companies. I utilize Border Theory as a critical framework to guide the collection of ethnographic materials, my interpretation of events, and my cultural analysis of the intersections between class, labor and color among this working class population. More notably, this doctoral investigation of Mexican immigrant working class life is the first to examine ethnographically the long unacknowledged issue of “color” among Mexicans in the United States in order to understand how Mexicans make sense of, produce, and regulate their “color subjectivities” under late capitalism at the beginning of the twenty first century. This ethnographic inquiry on the relations between class, labor, and color is a sustained effort to move deeper into the texture of everyday life to document the centrality of these seemingly unrelated hierarchies in the making of what it means to be Mexican in Mexican Chicago.
Issue Date:2015-01-21
Rights Information:Copyright 2014 Sergio Lemus
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-01-21
Date Deposited:2014-12

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