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1 Hawthorne Ethnic Studies- General

Breaks in the Chain: What Immigrant Workers Can Teach America about Democracy


Breaks in the Chain: What Immigrant Workers Can Teach America about Democracy Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In Breaks in the Chain, Paul Apostolidis investigates the personal life stories of a group of Mexican immigrant meatpackers who are at once typical and extraordinary. After crossing the border clandestinely and navigating the treacherous world of the undocumented, they waged a campaign to democratize their union and their workplace in the most hazardous industry in the United States.

Breaks in the Chain shows how immigrant workers-individually and sometimes collectively-both reinforce and contest a tacit but lethal form of biopolitics that differentiates the life chances of racial groups. Examining their personal narratives, Apostolidis recasts our understanding of the ways immigrants construct and transform social power.

Apostolidis uses empirical inquiry to spark new reflections in critical theory as he analyzes how immigrant workers' local practices confront structural power within and beyond America's borders. Linking stories of immigration to stories about working on the meat production line-the chain-he reveals the surprising power of activism by immigrant workers and their allies and demonstrates how it can-and should-promote social and political democracy in America.

Book News Annotation:

The recent United States and Mexico border disputes have sparked paranoia, suspicion, and race hatred against Mexican immigrants. The increase in funding by the Bush administration of such projects as the border wall and the Department of Homeland Security has only made matters worse, says the author. At the center of this torrent of politics and racism are the immigrants themselves whose voices are seldom heard. This investigative book by Apostolidis, author of Stations of the Cross: Adorno and Christian Right Radio, covers a group of Mexican immigrants working as meatpackers who spark an activist campaign attempting to democratize the meatpacker's union. This story, appealing to those with an interest in political science, serves as a reminder of what American democracy is all about. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (


How immigrants' stories can transform social power.

About the Author

Paul Apostolidis holds the Judge and Mrs. Timothy A. Paul Chair of Political Science at Whitman College. He is the author of Stations of the Cross: Adorno and Christian Right Radio and coeditor of Public Affairs: Politics in the Age of Sex Scandals.

Table of Contents




Introduction: Immigration, Power, and Politics in America Today

1. Political Narratives, Common Sense, and Theories of Hegemony

2. Hegemony in Hindsight: Immigrant Workers' Stories of Power in Mexico

3. Stories of Fate and Agency in the Zone of Illegality

4. Labor, Injury, and Self-Preservation in the Slaughterhouse

5. ¡Nosotros Somos la Unión! Immigrant Worker Organizing and the Disciplines of the Law

Conclusion: Immigrant Workers and Counterhegemony

Appendix: Interview Methods




Product Details

Apostolidis, Paul
University of Minnesota Press
Labor & Industrial Relations - General
International Relations - General
United States Emigration and immigration.
Foreign workers - United States - Attitudes
Political Freedom & Security - Civil Rights
International Relations
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
8.5 x 5.5 x 0.9 in

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Related Subjects

Business » Human Resource Management
Business » Management
History and Social Science » Ethnic Studies » General
History and Social Science » Ethnic Studies » Hispanic American Studies
History and Social Science » Ethnic Studies » Immigration
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » Politics » Labor

Breaks in the Chain: What Immigrant Workers Can Teach America about Democracy Used Trade Paper
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Product details 360 pages University of Minnesota Press - English 9780816669820 Reviews:
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How immigrants' stories can transform social power.
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