Images of work, images of defiance: engaging migrant farm worker voice through community-based arts

  • J. Adam PerryEmail author
Symposium/Special Issue


This article addresses a stated need within the food justice movement scholarship to increase the attention paid to the political socialization of hired farm hands in industrial agriculture. In Canada, tackling the problem of farm worker equity has particular social and political contours related to the Canadian horticultural industry’s reliance on a state-managed migrant agricultural labour program designed to fill the sector’s labour market demands. As Canada’s Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) produces relations of ‘unfree labour’, engaging migrant farm workers in social movement initiatives can be particularly challenging. Critical educational interventions designed to encourage migrant farm workers’ contribution to contemporary social movements in Canada must therefore confront the socio-cultural obstacles that constrict migrant farm workers’ opportunities to participate as full members of their communities. In this article, I argue that social justice oriented approaches to community-based arts can provide a means for increasing the social movement contributions of farm workers employed through managed labour migration schema such as Canada’s SAWP.


Migrant farm workers Theatre of the Oppressed Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program Guest worker programs Unfree labour Canada 



Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program



The author wishes to gratefully acknowledge the helpful comments of the three anonymous reviewers during the preparation of this manuscript. The funding was supported by Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (Grant No. 752-2011-2626).

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the University of Toronto and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social Work/School of the ArtsMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada

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