For the Rights of Laborers Worldwide: Recommended May Day & International Workers’ Day Reading

Though many in the Northern Hemisphere are more familiar with the traditional celebrations of the springtime season, people around the world also gather today to recognize the working class. May Day, sharing a date with International Workers’ Day and chosen to commemorate the 1886 Chicago Haymarket affair, serves to commemorate the fight for representation and rights for laborers worldwide — as well as the continuing efforts and struggle of the labor movement, shown by organized demonstrators and marchers every May 1st.

We invite you to peruse our recommended reading list that appears below in honor of May Day and the international labor movement.

Precarious Creativity: Global Media, Local Labor and Voices of Labor: Creativity, Craft, and Conflict in Global Hollywood
Edited by Michael Curtin and Kevin Sanson

Free ebook versions of these titles are available through Luminos, University of California Press’s open access publishing program. Visit www.luminosoa.org to learn more.

Precarious Creativity examines the seismic changes confronting media workers in an age of globalization and corporate conglomeration. This pathbreaking anthology peeks behind the hype and supposed glamor of screen media industries to reveal the intensifying pressures and challenges confronting actors, editors, electricians, and others. With contributions from such leading scholars as John Caldwell, Vicki Mayer, Herman Gray, and Tejaswini Ganti, Precarious Creativity offers timely critiques of media globalization while also intervening in broader debates about labor, creativity, and precarity.

“Wide-ranging, diverse, and authoritative. . . this book succeeds in building a balanced and comprehensive portrayal of the reshaping of the contours of work and industry organization under the twin circumstances of digital disruption and a globalizing media system.” —Tom O’Regan, Professor of Media and Cultural Studies, The University of Queensland

Rather than offer publicity-friendly anecdotes by marquee celebrities, Voices of Labor presents off-screen observations about the everyday realities of Global Hollywood. Ranging across job categories—from showrunner to make-up artist to location manager—this collection features voices of labor from Los Angeles, Atlanta, Prague, and Vancouver. Together they show how seemingly abstract concepts like conglomeration, financialization, and globalization are crucial tools for understanding contemporary Hollywood and for reflecting more generally on changes and challenges in the screen media workplace and our culture at large.

“By listening carefully to their interlocutors, Michael Curtin and Kevin Sanson craft a powerful elegy for organized labor, demonstrating how critical theory is sung to the everyday rhythms of the workplace.” —Vicki Mayer, author of Almost Hollywood, Nearly New Orleans: The Lure of the Local Film Economy


Almost Hollywood, Nearly New Orleans: The Lure of the Local Film Economy

By Vicki Mayer

A free ebook version of this title is available through Luminos, University of California Press’s open access publishing program. 

Early in the twenty-first century, Louisiana, one of the poorest states in the United States, redirected millions in tax dollars from the public coffers in an effort to become the top location site globally for the production of Hollywood films and television series. Why would lawmakers support such a policy? Why would citizens accept the policy’s uncomfortable effects on their economy and culture? Almost Hollywood, Nearly New Orleans addresses these questions through a study of the local and everyday experiences of the film economy in New Orleans, Louisiana—a city that has twice pursued the goal of becoming a movie production capital. From the silent era to today’s Hollywood South, Vicki Mayer explains that the aura of a film economy is inseparable from a prevailing sense of home, even as it changes that place irrevocably.

“A visionary in the study of cultural labor, economy, and geography, Mayer is that rare writer who combines exquisite storytelling with rigorous scholarship. This is an essential contribution to film and media studies, and an urgent history lesson for policy makers.”—Melissa Gregg, author of Work’s Intimacy

The New Food Activism: Opposition, Cooperation, and Collective Action
Edited by Alison Alkon and Julie Guthman

The New Food Activism explores how food activism can be pushed toward deeper and more complex engagement with social, racial, and economic justice and toward advocating for broader and more transformational shifts in the food system. Topics examined include struggles against pesticides and GMOs, efforts to improve workers’ pay and conditions throughout the food system, and ways to push food activism beyond its typical reliance on individualism, consumerism, and private property. The authors challenge and advance existing discourse on consumer trends, food movements, and the intersection of food with racial and economic inequalities.

The New Food Activism is one of the most important books on food this century. It is required, inspiring, and challenging reading for every student of food, every ‘foodie,’ as well as every grower, worker, and eater in today’s food system. . . groundbreaking.” —Seth Holmes, author of Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies: Migrant Farmworkers in the United States

Precarious Claims: The Promise and Failure of Workplace Protections in the United States
By Shannon Gleeson

A free ebook version of this title is available through Luminos, University of California Press’s open access publishing program.

Precarious Claims tells the human story behind the bureaucratic process of fighting for justice in the U.S. workplace. How and why do vulnerable workers in low-wage industries, despite enormous barriers, come forward to seek justice, and what happens once they do? Based on extensive fieldwork in Northern California, Gleeson investigates the array of gatekeepers with whom workers must negotiate in the labor standards enforcement bureaucracy and, ultimately, the limited reach of formal legal protections. The author also tracks how workplace injustices—and the arduous process of contesting them—carry long-term effects on their everyday lives. Workers sometimes win, but their chances are precarious at best.

“Exceptional . . . Gleeson masterfully demonstrates how institutional inequality weakens employment rights through workplace power imbalances, bureaucratic procedures for claiming rights, and broader shifts toward precarious work in the global economy. A must read.” —Catherine Albiston, Professor of Law and Sociology, University of California Berkeley

 
Invisible Labor: Hidden Work in the Contemporary World
Edited by Marion Crain, Winifred Poster, and Miriam Cherry

Across the world, workers labor without pay for the benefit of profitable businesses—and it’s legal. Labor trends like outsourcing and technology hide some workers, and branding and employer mandates erase others. Invisible workers who remain under-protected by wage laws include retail workers who function as walking billboards and take payment in clothing discounts or prestige; waitstaff at “breastaurants” who conform their bodies to a business model; and inventory stockers at grocery stores who go hungry to complete their shifts. Invisible Labor gathers essays by prominent sociologists and legal scholars to illuminate how and why such labor has been hidden from view.

“A terrific collection . . . Resonating with our everyday experiences of life, this is a lively and thought-provoking volume.” —Miriam Glucksmann, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of Essex 

The Last Great Strike: Little Steel, the CIO, and the Struggle for Labor Rights in New Deal America
By Ahmed White

In May 1937, seventy thousand workers walked off their jobs at four large steel companies known collectively as “Little Steel.” At least sixteen died and hundreds more were injured before the strike ended in failure. The violence and brutality of the Little Steel Strike became legendary. In many ways it was the last great strike in modern America. Traditionally the Little Steel Strike has been understood as a modest setback for steel workers, one that actually confirmed the potency of New Deal reforms and did little to impede the progress of the labor movement. However, The Last Great Strike tells a different story about the conflict and its significance for unions and labor rights. More than any other strike, it laid bare the contradictions of the industrial labor movement, the resilience of corporate power, and the limits of New Deal liberalism at a crucial time in American history.

The Last Great Strike is a strong piece of scholarship, rich with archival discoveries. Compelling and accessible . . . an important contribution to our understanding of U.S. labor history, union organizing, and class conflict.”—Monthly Review

The Filth of Progress: Immigrants, Americans, and the Building of Canals and Railroads in the West
By Ryan Dearinger

In the summer of 1968 Peter Matthiessen met Cesar Chavez for the first time. They were the same age: forty-one. Matthiessen lived in New York City, while Chavez lived in the Central Valley farm town of Delano, where the grape strike was unfolding. This book is Matthiessen’s panoramic yet finely detailed account of the three years he spent working and traveling with Chavez, including to Sal Si Puedes, the San Jose barrio where Chavez began his organizing.

“The Filth of Progress persuasively outlines the dark underbelly of the much-celebrated ‘progress’ that transportation improvements . . . compact, vividly written.” —Thomas G. Andrews, Associate Professor of History at the University of Colorado and author of Killing for Coal: America’s Deadliest Labor War and Coyote Valley: Deep History in the High Rockies

Labor and the Locavore: The Making of a Comprehensive Food Ethic
by Margaret Gray

Labor and the Locavore focuses on one of the most vibrant local food economies in the country, the Hudson Valley that supplies New York restaurants and farmers markets. Based on more than a decade’s in-depth interviews with workers, farmers, and others, Gray’s examination clearly shows how the currency of agrarian values serves to mask the labor concerns of an already hidden workforce. She also explores the historical roots of farmworkers’ predicaments and examines the ethnic shift from Black to Latino workers. With an analysis that can be applied to local food concerns around the country, this book challenges the reader to consider how the mentality of the alternative food movements implies a comprehensive food ethic that addresses workers’ concerns.

Labor and the Locavore is a timely and important antidote to much of today’s popular food writing on eating local. . . Margaret Gray shows that labor abuses are not unique to industrial scale agriculture—or to California.” —Julie Guthman, author of Weighing In: Obesity, Food Justice, and the Limits of Capitalism

Agrarian Dreams: The Paradox of Organic Farming in California
by Julie Guthman

In this groundbreaking study of organic farming, Julie Guthman challenges accepted wisdom about organic food and agriculture in the Golden State. Many continue to believe that small-scale organic farming is the answer to our environmental and health problems, but Guthman refutes popular portrayals that pit “small organic” against “big organic” and offers an alternative analysis that underscores the limits of an organic label as a pathway to transforming agriculture.

“A meticulous academic study of the institutional dynamics of [California’s] organic agriculture.”—Steven Shapin, New Yorker

 

Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies: Migrant Farmworkers in the United States, With a Foreword by Philippe Bourgois
By Seth Holmes

Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies provides an intimate examination of the everyday lives and suffering of Mexican migrants in our contemporary food system. An anthropologist and MD in the mold of Paul Farmer and Didier Fassin, Holmes shows how market forces, anti-immigrant sentiment, and racism undermine health and health care. Holmes’s material is visceral and powerful. He trekked with his companions illegally through the desert into Arizona and was jailed with them before they were deported. He lived with indigenous families in the mountains of Oaxaca and in farm labor camps in the U.S., planted and harvested corn, picked strawberries, and accompanied sick workers to clinics and hospitals. This “embodied anthropology” deepens our theoretical understanding of the ways in which social inequalities and suffering come to be perceived as normal and natural in society and in health care.

All of the book award money and royalties from the sales of this book have been donated to farm worker unions, farm worker organizations and farm worker projects in consultation with farm workers who appear in the book.

“By giving voice to silenced Mexican migrant laborers, Dr. Holmes exposes the links among suffering, the inequalities related to the structural violence of global trade which compel migration, and the symbolic violence of stereotypes and prejudices that normalize racism.” —Marilyn Gates New York Journal of Books


For more UC Press publishing relating to farmworkers, labor activism, and California history, click through to our recently posted Cesar Chavez Reading List.


Human Rights and Geography: Our Authors at AAG

One of the themes in this year’s American Association of Geographers conference (occurring in Boston from April 5 – 9) is Mainstreaming Human Rights and Geography. Many geographers and scholars from all disciplines are concerned about human rights and seek meaningful ways to act on their values. Below are a list of some of our authors participating in an Author Meets Critics sessions.

Author Meets Critics Sessions

A Relational Poverty with Ananya Roy, author of Encountering Poverty: Thinking and Acting in an Unequal World

Friday, 4/7/2017, 8:00 AM – 9:40 AM in Fairfax A, Sheraton, Third Floor

Encountering Poverty is a genre-busting book, hybrid critical textbook and scholarly monograph, that pushes the reader to reflect on her or his preconceptions about, and desire to redress, global poverty. Its provocative arguments and deployment of innovative teaching tools will stimulate the most seasoned poverty scholar-educator.”—Eric Sheppard, coauthor of A World of Difference: Encountering and Contesting Development

And read more from Ananya in her piece, In “Defense of Poverty.” 

States of Disease with Brian King, author of States of Disease: Political Environments and Human Health

Friday, 4/7/2017, from 5:20 PM – 7:00 PM in Boylston, Marriott, First Floor

“Social scientists have increasingly applied new analytical approaches to the study of health—yet the discipline of geography has largely been on the sidelines. States of Disease sharpens the cutting-edge tools of political ecology to argue persuasively that ecological conditions are integral to the politics and spatiality of disease and wellness. In contributing to multilayered understandings of HIV/AIDS, the book challenges dominant biomedical approaches.”—Mark Hunter, author of Love in the Time of AIDS: Inequality, Gender, and Rights in South Africa

And read more from Brian on climate change and the fight against HIV/AIDS.

 

Other Sessions

1413 Checking in on the failures and accomplishments of green capitalism
with Gregory L. Simon, author of Flame and Fortune in the American West: Urban Development, Environmental Change, and the Great Oakland Hills Fire

Wednesday, 4/5/2017, from 12:40 PM – 2:20 PM in Room 202, Hynes, Second Level

Flame and Fortune in the American West cover“It’s been a while since anyone has developed such a sustained critique of the fire-capitalist development complex, but Gregory Simon has done it in a way that will attract readers to the argument and issues that he tackles. Few other people could write this, and none could write it in this style. This is a book that needs to be read.”—Eric Perramond, Associate Professor of Environmental Science and Southwest Studies at Colorado College

 

1623 Spatial Narrative in the GeoHumanities: Aesthetics, Methods, and Theory
with Nicholas Bauch, author of A Geography of Digestion: Biotechnology and the Kellogg Cereal Enterprise

Wednesday, 4/5/2017, from 4:40 PM – 6:20 PM in Room 303, Hynes, Third Level

“Nicholas Bauch navigates the reader from the microscale of bodily organs and bacteria to the macroscale of the nation. Written in engaging and lucid prose, A Geography of Digestion blurs the boundaries between inside and outside, between the inner geographies of the human body and their projection on the landscape. Thoroughly researched, captivating, and compellingly geographical, this is one of those rare academic books you will find hard to put down.”—Veronica della Dora, Royal Holloway, University of London

Radicalizing the politics of ‘living with’: enacting race, ethnicity, and difference in animal geography scholarship with Julie Guthman, author of Weighing In: Obesity, Food Justice, and the Limits of Capitalism and Agrarian Dreams: The Paradox of Organic Farming in California

Thursday, 4/6/2017, from 3:20 PM – 5:00 PM in Massachusetts, Marriott, Fifth Floor

Weighing In is filled with counterintuitive surprises that should make us skeptics of all kinds of food — whether local, fast, slow, junk or health — but also gives us the practical tools to effectively scrutinize the stale buffet of popularly-accepted health wisdom before we digest it.” —Paul Robbins, professor of Geography and Development, University of Arizona

 

 


A Food Justice Reading List

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In our current political climate, reliable access to fresh and nutritious food remains an issue throughout the United States and other parts of the world. Check out some of the books below to get your Food Justice 101 and learn about some solutions proposed by scholars to help solve this pressing issue.

Agrarian Dreams: The Paradox of Organic Farming in California by Julie Guthman

In this groundbreaking study of organic farming, Julie Guthman challenges accepted wisdom about organic food and agriculture in the Golden State. Many continue to believe that small-scale organic farming is the answer to our environmental and health problems, but Guthman refutes popular portrayals that pit “small organic” against “big organic” and offers an alternative analysis that underscores the limits of an organic label as a pathway to transforming agriculture.

More Than Just Food: Food Justice and Community Change by Garrett Broad

Focusing on the work of several food justice groups—including Community Services Unlimited, a South Los Angeles organization founded as the nonprofit arm of the Southern California Black Panther Party—More Than Just Food explores the possibilities and limitations of the community-based approach, offering a networked examination of the food justice movement in the age of the nonprofit industrial complex.

Divided Spirits: Tequila, Mezcal, and the Politics of Production by Sarah Bowen

Divided Spirits tells the stories of tequila and mezcal, two of Mexico’s most iconic products. In doing so, the book illustrates how neoliberalism influences the production, branding, and regulation of local foods and drinks. It also challenges the strategy of relying on “alternative” markets to protect food cultures and rural livelihoods.

The Weight of Obesity: Hunger and Global Health in Postwar Guatemala by Emily Yates-Doerr

Based on years of intensive fieldwork, The Weight of Obesity offers poignant stories of how obesity is lived and experienced by Guatemalans who have recently found their diets—and their bodies—radically transformed. Anthropologist Emily Yates-Doerr challenges the widespread view that health can be measured in calories and pounds, offering an innovative understanding of what it means to be healthy in postcolonial Latin America.

The Unending Hunger: Tracing Women and Food Insecurity Across Borders by Megan Carney

Based on ethnographic fieldwork from Santa Barbara, California, this book sheds light on the ways that food insecurity prevails in women’s experiences of migration from Mexico and Central America to the United States. As women grapple with the pervasive conditions of poverty that hinder efforts at getting enough to eat, they find few options for alleviating the various forms of suffering that accompany food insecurity. Examining how constraints on eating and feeding translate to the uneven distribution of life chances across borders and how “food security” comes to dominate national policy in the United States, this book argues for understanding women’s relations to these processes as inherently biopolitical.

Ethical Eating in a Socialist and Postsocialist World edited by Yuson Jung, Jakob A. Klein, and Melissa Caldwell

Current discussions of the ethics around alternative food movements–concepts such as “local,” “organic,” and “fair trade”–tend to focus on their growth and significance in advanced capitalist societies. In this groundbreaking contribution to critical food studies, editors Yuson Jung, Jakob A. Klein, and Melissa L. Caldwell explore what constitutes “ethical food” and “ethical eating” in socialist and formerly socialist societies.

Balancing on a Planet: The Future of Food and Agriculture by David A. Cleveland

David Cleveland argues that combining selected aspects of small-scale traditional agriculture with modern scientific agriculture can help balance our biological need for food with its environmental impact—and continue to fulfill cultural, social, and psychological needs related to food.

The Darjeeling Distinction: Labor and Justice on Fair-Trade Tea Plantations in India by Sarah Besky

In this nuanced ethnography, Sarah Besky narrates the lives of tea workers in Darjeeling. She explores how notions of fairness, value, and justice shifted with the rise of fair-trade practices and postcolonial separatist politics in the region. This is the first book to explore how fair-trade operates in the context of large-scale plantations.The Darjeeling Distinction challenges fair-trade policy and practice, exposing how trade initiatives often fail to consider the larger environmental, historical, and sociopolitical forces that shape the lives of the people they intended to support.

Labor and the Locavore: The Making of a Comprehensive Food Ethic by Margaret Gray

Labor and the Locavore focuses on one of the most vibrant local food economies in the country, the Hudson Valley that supplies New York restaurants and farmers markets. Based on more than a decade’s in-depth interviews with workers, farmers, and others, Gray’s examination clearly shows how the currency of agrarian values serves to mask the labor concerns of an already hidden workforce.

Weighing In: Obesity, Food Justice, and the Limits of Capitalism by Julie Guthman

Weighing In takes on the “obesity epidemic,” challenging many widely held assumptions about its causes and consequences. Julie Guthman examines fatness and its relationship to health outcomes to ask if our efforts to prevent “obesity” are sensible, efficacious, or ethical. She also focuses the lens of obesity on the broader food system to understand why we produce cheap, over-processed food, as well as why we eat it.


Join Us at the 2016 Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting in San Francisco, CA!

 

Nonstop Metropolis by Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro

 

 

 

 

 

University of California Press is exhibiting at the 2016 AAG Annual Meeting! The meeting convenes March 29 – April 2, 2016 in San Francisco, CA.

Please visit us at booth #314 in the exhibit hall at the Hilton San Francisco in Union Square for the following offers:

  • 40% conference discount on all orders
  • Request exam copies to consider for course adoption
  • Enter for a chance to win $100 worth of books by subscribing to UC Press eNews

Please see our flyer at our booth for our latest releases. Acquisitions and marketing staff will be available for your publishing questions.

Follow AAG’s Facebook, @theAAG, and hashtag #aag2016 for current meeting news. Catch up on our recent blog posts on the Natural Sciences here.

Be sure to catch our authors at the following Author Meets Critics sessions:

   

Rebecca Solnit with Joshua Jelly-Shapiro
“Mapping the Infinite City” — A Talk on the “infinite trilogy” of Atlases
Wednesday, March 30th, 5:20PM – 7:00PM
Hilton Hotel, Imperial B, Ballroom Level

   

Garrett Broad
Land, Justice and Agrifood Movements I: Trajectories and Tensions
Tuesday, March 29th, 2:40 PM – 2:20 PM
Hilton Hotel, Union Square 4, 4th Floor

  

Erica Kohl-Arenas with Ananya Roy
Author Meets Critics: Erica Kohl-Arenas’ The Self-Help Myth
Tuesday, March 29th, 4:40PM – 6:20PM
Hilton Hotel, Plaza A, Lobby Level

  

Seth Holmes
Annual CAPE “James M. Blaut” Plenary Lecture
Wednesday, March 30th, 3:20 PM – 5:00 PM
Imperial A, Ballroom Level
Hilton Hotel

   

Julie Guthman
Papers in Honor of Michael Watts IV
Thursday, March 31st, 3:20 PM – 5:00 PM
JW Marriott Hotel, Metropolitan A, 2nd Floor

Chemical Geographies: Science, Politics, and Materiality
Friday, April 1st, 8:00AM – 9:40AM
Continental 6, Ballroom Level — Hilton Hotel

  

Ananya Roy
Sabotage, Ostentation, and Attitude: Transformations in Modes of Collective Life in São Paulo’s Peripheries
Thursday, March 31st, 5:20PM – 7:00PM
Hotel Nikko, Nikko Ballroom 2, 3rd Floor

   

Christine Shepardson
Spatiotemporal Symposium: Space-Time Concepts in the GeoHumanities
Thursday, March 31st, 5:20 PM–7:00 PM
Hilton Hotel, Union Square 1, 4th Floor

Islamic Identities
Friday, April 1st, 10:00 AM–11:45 AM
Hotel Nikko, Nikko Ballroom III, 3rd Floor


Award-Winning UC Press Authors at the AFHVS/ASFS Annual Meeting

Last month, two UC Press authors received major prizes at the annual joint meeting of the Association for the Study of Food and Society (ASFS) and the Agriculture, Food and Human Values Society (AFHVS). (Learn more about this year’s ASFS/AFHVS Conference on the official website.)

Julie Guthman (right) receives the AFHVS Excellence in Research Award.
Julie Guthman (right) receives the AFHVS Excellence in Research Award.

Julie Guthman, author of Weighing In: Obesity, Food Justice, and the Limits of Capitalism and Agrarian Dreams: The Paradox of Organic Farming in California, received the 2015 Excellence in Research Award from AFHVS.

This prize recognizes members of the AFHVS who have made outstanding contributions to research in the fields of agriculture, food, and human values. Guthman’s work, analyzing of both the American “obesity epidemic” and the realities of organic farming, is groundbreaking: truly deserving of this honor.

Amy Bentley with husband Brett Gary at the James Beard Awards.
Amy Bentley with husband Brett Gary at the James Beard Awards.
Inventing Baby Food: Taste, Health, and the Industrialization of the American Diet
Inventing Baby Food: Taste, Health, and the Industrialization of the American Diet

Amy Bentley’s Inventing Baby Food also received the 2015 ASFS Book Award. This award recognizes exemplary research, insightful theory, and the most significant and novel contributions to food scholarship, particularly books which suggest new questions and avenues of research for the scholarship of food.

Bentley joins other UC Press authors in this honor: since 2010, five UC Press titles have received the award, including Margaret Gray’s Labor and the Locavore in 2014. Bentley’s book is certainly worthy of this recognition: her history of baby food and American consumption is fresh, innovative, and informative. Inventing Baby Food was also a 2015 James Beard Award finalist in the scholarship and reference category.

It’s a pleasure to share this wonderful news, and we are proud to have published with both authors! Congratulations!


UC Press Award Wins at the 2015 AAG Annual Meeting

 

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UC Press author Seth Holmes accepting the James M. Blaut Award for his book Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies.
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Senior Editor Blake Edgar accepting the AAG Publication Award on behalf of the press.

Concluding its annual meeting in Chicago on April 25, the Association of American Geographers recognized UC Press with its Publication Award for “long-term commitment to publishing excellent research in geography” that spans the breadth of the discipline. Since 1913, the Press has published innovative scholarship of by and for geographers, with recent titles including Atlas of Yellowstone, Mountain Geography, Unfathomable City, and an updated edition of Agrarian Dreams. In accepting the award, Senior Editor Blake Edgar thanked the authors and readers of our geography books for their insights and interest and vowed to continue publishing work worthy of this honor.

During the same ceremony, author and anthropologist Seth M. Holmes of UC Berkeley received the James M. Blaut Award from the AAG’s Cultural and Political Ecology Specialty Group for his book Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies: Migrant Farmworkers in the United States.