On the very last day of our course, all students had the opportunity to present their work to the entire class. My final project is a Comparative Study of Media Practice Between the Farm Worker Movement and the Dreamer Movement. By farm worker movement, I largely mean the movements to unionize farm workers during the 1960s, which was spearheaded by Cesar Chavez’ United Farm Workers (formerly National Farm Workers Association). The Dreamer Movement refers specifically to a section of the contemporary immigrant’s rights movement, that is mostly led by undocumented youth who are eligible for the Dream Act.
In order to engage in a comparative study of the media practice of two very distinct eras, I first attempted to map the historical and political contexts from which each movement emerged. For example, the Farm Worker Movement really took rise as the Bracero Program, a guest worker program between the U.S. and Mexico, came to an end. There had been previous attempt by other unions to organize farm workers in the 1950s, but they largely failed because the Bracero Program ensured that cheap labor from Mexico flowed into the country, leading to lower wages in the agriculture industry.
Similarly, it is important to note that during the course of the Dreamer Movement, after the Dream Act was first introduced in August of 2001, the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center occurred on 9/11, sending a shock wave of anti-foreigner sentiment and xenophobia throughout the country. This shock wave stopped the Dream Act dead in its tracks and led to the mobilization of countless undocumented youth in the Dreamer Movement. Another factor that I consider is the spillover from other social movements into each respective movement.
The other parts of my presentation included a discussion of the organization structures of both movements, a brief taxonomy of the types of media that I consider, similarities in organizing strategy repertoire, mapping media ecologies, and preliminary findings. To find out more about my project, look for a future blog that includes the final paper.