Calls for Contributors

Call for Contributors: “Migrant: Unwaged Work in the U.S.”

The Activist History Review invites proposals for our April 2019 issue, “Migrant: Unwaged Work in the U.S.”

The Activist History Review invites proposals for our April 2019 issue, “Migrant: Unwaged Work in the U.S.”

Migrant workers have formed the backbone of American foodways for centuries. They pick our crops, process our food, and package it for our consumption. Despite the absolutely essential nature of their labor, they often work without benefits or protections while receiving scant pay. These poor working conditions subsidize the cost of our every meal, enabling employers to pay workers less while increasing their own profits.

The system of exploitation to which migrant workers are subject, and upon which we all depend for survival, penalizes them for their migrant status, treating them at once as burdensome interlopers and essential workers. The legal rationale for this system, rooted in slavery, facilitates ever-increasing inequality by harnessing existing systems of racist oppression. It is, in effect, a machine through which Americans eat their poor and dispossessed.

Migrant workers in green bean fields in Homestead
Migrant workers harvest green beans in Homestead, Florida. As the Miami Herald found, growers there used workers’ undocumented status to cheat them out of their wages. Image courtesy of the Miami Herald.

We welcome proposals that examine any aspect of the long arc of migrant labor in American history, with preference given to those that discuss the racialized nature of migrant work.

Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Migrant life in the United States
  • “Coolie” systems
  • Incarceration and work
  • Slavery
  • Indenture
  • Food processing
  • Agricultural labor
  • Gendering work and workers
  • Racism and food work
  • Workplace accidents
  • H-2A/B visa program

Proposals should be no more than 250 words for articles from 1250-2000 words, and should be emailed to Michael Barry at by Saturday, March 23rd at 11:59 PM. Please also include a short bio of no more than 100 words.

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