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.
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.
Contents Acknowledgments Acronyms 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 Union! Immigrant Worker Organizing and the Disciplines of the Law Conclusion: Immigrant Workers and Counterhegemony Appendix: Interview Methods Notes Bibliography Index