Narratives of Resistance: Space, Place, and Identity in Latino Migrant Activism
In the August 2013 edition of ACME, Andy Walter offers a geographic analysis of scholarly work on the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), describing the movement as a ‘cartographic project’ aimed at ‘up-scaling’ local disputes to national and global attention (Walter 2013). Spatial changes in the CIW’s politics, Walter argues, can be interpreted as “a commitment to a relational sense of space that involved, but went beyond, the jump in scale observed in the academic literature on the CIW” (2013, 399). Contemporary popular accounts of migrant activism also showcase the CIW’s rise to prominence as a ‘bottom-up’ representation of the confluence of economic, cultural, and global concerns that Walter highlights. Yet in both scholarly and popular conceptions, little attention has been given to why the CIW’s example is equally compelling to academics, activists, and political commentators alike. In our paper, we position ourselves as a critical supplement to Walter’s analysis by asking what it means to ‘go beyond scale’ as a political and spatial strategy. We find that the CIW’s example is especially vibrant due to its ability to draw on the experiences of migrant laborers as narratives of resistance, linking affect and discourse to the political re-configuration of labor-space.
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