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Abstract

This thesis studies the lives of Mexican migrant farmworkers in Southwest Wisconsin dairies. Upon migration into the U.S. agricultural system, Mexican migrants face poverty, food insecurity, separation from families, a discriminatory migration system, and a long history of racialized agricultural labor. Despite this, I find that these Mexican farmworkers in Wisconsin negotiate capitalist oppression through the production, preparation, sharing, and consumption of food. By exploring relationships to food, I first reveal the ways that farmworkers contend with the heightening of poverty, scarcity, and precarity of the (post)neoliberal era. Next, I argue that farmworkers create spaces within and beside capitalism that enable the (re)making of worlds, strategies of care, and relationships of solidarity. Finally, I contend that these practices facilitate not just their survival within exploitative systems, but also their ability to flourish. Ultimately, this thesis reveals the unique ways that Mexican migrants in Wisconsin dairies negotiate relationships to food and practices of gardening and cooking in order to make an (often) undocumented, diasporic life livable.

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