Event Title

Health and Precarity in a Fruit-packing Plant: The Underbelly of Chile’s “Fruit Boom”

Location

D1496

Start Date

1-4-2016 11:15 AM

End Date

1-4-2016 11:50 AM

Description

During the last three decades, Chile has experienced an unprecedented growth in the agribusiness industry. Resulting from open-­market policies during the early 1980s, the “fruit boom” has placed Chile as a top fresh fruit exporter, supplying table grape demand from the northern hemisphere. Alongside the growth of the agribusiness sector, a workforce of female seasonal workers—temporeras—was born. Every summer harvest, between 400,000-600,000 temporeras pick and process grapes in a work environment characterized by precarious working conditions.

This paper examines how temporeras navigate long work hours, unexpected lay-­offs, and health hazards. In addition to the material indicators of labor insecurity, women face a prevalent health discourse that places the responsibility of workers’ health and safety on their shoulders. This presentation unpacks how blame is used as a form of discipline in the fruit-­packing plant. In what ways do women “sacrifice” their long-­term health for short-­term employment? What strategies do temporeras employ as a way of making do?

Based on qualitative research methods, the investigation sheds light on a workforce that is overshadowed by a story of a “miraculous” economic growth. Drawing on testimonies and ethnographic accounts, this paper examines the underbelly of development and the ways in which the workers propelling the economic growth navigate flexible work regimes.

Comments

Dr. Jelena Radovic-Fanta is an Assistant Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences.

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Apr 1st, 11:15 AM Apr 1st, 11:50 AM

Health and Precarity in a Fruit-packing Plant: The Underbelly of Chile’s “Fruit Boom”

D1496

During the last three decades, Chile has experienced an unprecedented growth in the agribusiness industry. Resulting from open-­market policies during the early 1980s, the “fruit boom” has placed Chile as a top fresh fruit exporter, supplying table grape demand from the northern hemisphere. Alongside the growth of the agribusiness sector, a workforce of female seasonal workers—temporeras—was born. Every summer harvest, between 400,000-600,000 temporeras pick and process grapes in a work environment characterized by precarious working conditions.

This paper examines how temporeras navigate long work hours, unexpected lay-­offs, and health hazards. In addition to the material indicators of labor insecurity, women face a prevalent health discourse that places the responsibility of workers’ health and safety on their shoulders. This presentation unpacks how blame is used as a form of discipline in the fruit-­packing plant. In what ways do women “sacrifice” their long-­term health for short-­term employment? What strategies do temporeras employ as a way of making do?

Based on qualitative research methods, the investigation sheds light on a workforce that is overshadowed by a story of a “miraculous” economic growth. Drawing on testimonies and ethnographic accounts, this paper examines the underbelly of development and the ways in which the workers propelling the economic growth navigate flexible work regimes.