Ismael García Colón Bio

Ismael García Colón is a historical and political anthropologist with focus on the Gramscian concept of hegemony, oral history, immigration and colonial migration, race, citizenship, farm labor, U.S. empire, Puerto Rico, and U.S. ethnic and racial histories. He teaches at the College of Staten Island and the CUNY Graduate Center. His research experiences include documenting Latinxs in the NYC labor movement, and landless workers, migrant farmworkers, processes of colonial state formation and land distribution programs in Puerto Rico. García Colón is the author of the book Colonial Migrants at the Heart of Empire: Puerto Rican Workers on U.S. Farms (University of California Press, February 2020), and Land Reform in Puerto Rico: Modernizing the Colonial State, 1941-1969 (University Press of Florida, 2009). His publications have also appeared in Latin American Perspectives, CENTRO Journal, American Ethnologist, and Latino Studies. García Colón’s current research explores the Puerto Rican experience in U.S. farm labor and its relation to U.S. colonialism and immigration policies, and how government policies formed and transformed modern subjectivities in Puerto Rico.

Summary of the Exhibit:

The photo exhibit narrates the history of Puerto Rican farm labor migration to continental U.S. farms and the role of the Farm Labor Program. It begins by explaining the situation of Puerto Rico that led to this migration and the creation of FLP in the 1940s. Some photos show the different aspects of the FLP: recruitment, transportation, distribution, and overseeing of workers. Other photos describe the experiences, living conditions, and work of farmworkers.

Motivation:

The principal motivation is to provide visibility to the contributions and experiences of Puerto Rican migrant farmworkers in U.S. agriculture. Scholars, school teachers, activists, and students would be able to gain knowledge on the importance of this migration to agricultural production and the histories of stateside Puerto Ricans.

Abstract:

The exhibit Puerto Rican Migrant Farmworkers: Enduring Experiences in Continental U.S. Agriculture explores the long history of the administrative and legislative attempts to manage farm labor migration and the experiences of migrant farmworkers. The Puerto Rico Farm Labor Program (1947-1993) placed workers in more than 400,000 farm jobs, indirectly fostering the migration of thousands of non-contract workers and the emergence of many stateside Puerto Rican communities.