RESEARCH FOCUS GROUP TALK: BORDER-CROSSINGS AT THE INTERSECTION OF NARRATED AND NARRATING LANDSCAPES: LINGUISTIC BROKERS WITNESSING AND ENDURING THE U.S. SPATIO-TEMPORAL POLITICS OF MIGRANT WORKER ILLEGALITY IN THE AMERICAN HEARTLAND FEAT. JENNIFER F. REYNOLDS
This talk explores bilingual women’s social and narrative positioning as informal linguistic brokers (or community interpreters) in a rural town dependent on the industrial processing of fresh kosher meat-products. Specifically, it addresses how these women as “community accountants” employed reflexive interdiscursivity and oriented to different modernist chronotopes to re-analyze the cultural politics of migrant labor (Bakhtin 1981; See Chávez 2015; Dick 2010, 2017; Perrino 2011; Reynolds 2017). Their accounts shed insight into what happens when legal recognition of migrant labor is withheld/deferred and how this influences the chronic conditions of exhaustion and ambivalence that shape the social reproductive and linguistic labor necessary in supporting a diverse international migrant workforce in transnationally intertwined rural political economies (Povinelli 2011; McElhinny 2016). The study combines ethnography with poetic approaches to narrative dialogically produced through interviews. Analyses feature two contrasting case studies of native and foreign-born women and highlight how they grappled with maintaining and sustaining relationships that were socially fraught and required different kinds of border-crossing work to affectively identify with both migrant and native-born town residents.
Jennifer F. Reynolds is Professor of Anthropology and a faculty member in Linguistics and the Latin American Studies Program at the University of South Carolina. She is a linguistic anthropologist who examines the relationship(s) between quotidian discourse practices and social and linguistic reproduction, with a focus on indigenous Guatemalans in transnational circuits of migration.
Sponsored by the IHC’s Language, Interaction, and Social Organization (LISO) Research Focus Group and the Mellichamp Global Dynamics Initiative