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They Leave Their Kidneys in the FieldsIllness, Injury, and Illegality Among U.S. Farmworkers$
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Sarah Bronwen Horton

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780520283268

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520283268.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 23 January 2020

Burning Up

Burning Up

Heat Illness in California’s Fields

(p.46) Chapter 2 Burning Up
They Leave Their Kidneys in the Fields

Sarah Bronwen Horton

University of California Press

Taking the reader on an ethnographic tour of the melon harvesting fields during a historic heat wave in Fresno County, this chapter provides a close-up examination of how the organization of labor crews forces migrant farmworkers to privilege their work about their health. It shows that subcontracting intensifies the labor demands placed on field hands by creating a hierarchy of descending pressures on labor crews. To maximize field hands’ productivity, labor supervisors strategically draw upon a code of male honor to impugn men’s virility when they become ill while harvesting. Meanwhile, migrant men on labor crews discipline each other and themselves as they buy into this code of masculinity. As they work through the early symptoms of heat illness, their silence expedites the transfer of value to their employers even as it increases their risk of heat death.

Keywords:   Heat illness, Masculinity, Subcontracting, Labor supervisors, Labor crews, Migrant men, Migrant farmworkers, Value transfer

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