Research Programs: Summer Stipends

Period of Performance

8/1/2013 - 9/30/2013

Funding Totals

$6,000.00 (approved)
$6,000.00 (awarded)

The Bracero Program: A History of the U.S.-Mexico Guest Worker Program, 1942-1964

FAIN: FT-60844-13

Mireya Loza
Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois (Champaign, IL 61801-3620)

This study broadens our understanding of the historic U.S.-Mexico guest worker program, known as the "Bracero Program" that existed between 1942-1964. It does this in four important ways: First, it provides an account of transnational organizing efforts by braceros that have been overlooked in previous scholarship. Secondly, it explores ethnoracial boundaries amongst Mexican indigenous braceros whose stories and presence complicate pre-existing notions of Mexican worker’s nationalism and cohesiveness. Thirdly, Bracero camp sites are examined as they became increasingly important to gender formation amongst male workers and women that participated in the illicit sexual economies that formed around the camp sites. Lastly, the memory and legacy of the Bracero Program as it is understood and constructed by contemporary activist organizations is foregrounded as part of a broader discourse on human rights and reparations.

Media Coverage

C-SPAN3- American History TV (Media Coverage)
Date: 7/20/2016
Abstract: Lecture: Latino Labor Movements

Associated Products

Defiant Braceros: How Migrant Workers Fought for Racial, Sexual, and Political Freedom (Book)
Title: Defiant Braceros: How Migrant Workers Fought for Racial, Sexual, and Political Freedom
Author: Mireya Loza
Abstract: In this book, Mireya Loza sheds new light on the private lives of migrant men who participated in the Bracero Program (1942–1964), a binational agreement between the United States and Mexico that allowed hundreds of thousands of Mexican workers to enter this country on temporary work permits. While this program and the issue of temporary workers has long been politicized on both sides of the border, Loza argues that the prevailing romanticized image of braceros as a family-oriented, productive, legal workforce has obscured the real, diverse experiences of the workers themselves. Focusing on underexplored aspects of workers’ lives--such as their transnational union-organizing efforts, the sexual economies of both hetero and queer workers, and the ethno-racial boundaries among Mexican indigenous braceros--Loza reveals how these men defied perceived political, sexual, and racial norms. Basing her work on an archive of more than 800 oral histories from the United States and Mexico, Loza is the first scholar to carefully differentiate between the experiences of mestizo guest workers and the many Mixtec, Zapotec, Purhepecha, and Mayan laborers. In doing so, she captures the myriad ways these defiant workers responded to the intense discrimination and exploitation of an unjust system that still
Year: 2016
Primary URL:
Publisher: University of North Carolina Press
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 978-1-4696-297
Copy sent to NEH?: No

From Ephemeral to Enduring: The Politics of Recording and Exhibiting Bracero Memory. (Article)
Title: From Ephemeral to Enduring: The Politics of Recording and Exhibiting Bracero Memory.
Author: Mireya Loza
Abstract: From 2005 to 2009 the National Museum of American History embarked on one of its most ambitious collecting projects, focused on documenting experiences around the Bracero Program, the largest guest worker program in American History. This article focuses on the dilemmas of documenting memory through oral history for the Bracero History Archive and the reception of the National Museum of American History’s exhibit, Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program, 1942–1964. The present day political and social context in which these oral histories were collected left indelible marks on how the program is remembered. The retelling of bracero history also reveals contemporary concerns with the role that Mexican agricultural workers play in American society and sheds light on the national dilemma of immigration reform.
Year: 2016
Primary URL:
Format: Journal
Publisher: The Public Historian