Mexican Immigrant Masculinity and the Rebuilding of New Orleans
This chapter examines the plight of Mexican male workers in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Although the use of migrant labor drew heavy criticism and scapegoating from some of the city’s politicians and residents, the overarching narratives of the disaster and their emphasis on anti-black workplace discrimination rendered Latinos invisible—both long-time Latino residents, namely the region’s large Honduran population, who were displaced by the hurricane, and the phalanx of migrant laborers who took up much of the immediate post-disaster clean-up and rebuilding work. Drawing on a wealth of fieldwork in the New Orleans metropolitan area, the chapter considers the dramatic rise in workplace injury, illness, and fatalities among the Latino workers and presents an empirical portrait of labor conditions, particularly in the construction industry, in post-disaster New Orleans. It also discusses the impacts of neoliberal politics on the most dispossessed and marginalized and, as such, provides a unique vantage point from which to contemplate the possibility of more egalitarian modes of economy, urban living, and democratic society.
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