Frederick Douglass Forum Lecture Series


Immigrant Workers, Racial Biopolitics and the Meat People Eat

Streaming Media

Document Type

Video File


1 hour 22 minutes 58 seconds

Publication Date



American Politics | Inequality and Stratification | Labor Economics | Social Policy


Paul Apostolidis, professor of political science at Whitman College, gives a lecture based on his book Breaks in the Chain: What Immigrant Workers Can Teach America about Democracy. Apostolidis explores the book's experiences of Mexican immigrant workers who staged a powerful union uprising in the early 2000s in one of the United States' largest beef processing plants located in eastern Washington. These stories about the traumas of undocumented migration and labor in America's most dangerous jobs evoke a newly critical understanding of political theory regarding "biopolitics" as a system of racial differentiation and domination. They show how the bodily health and security of the racially privileged depends on the physical and psychological misery of immigrant food-processing workers. Even so, the workers' narratives suggest the abilities of immigrants to transform these power relations through democratic action and alliances with food consumers.


Sponsored by the Frederick Douglass Forum on Law, Rights, and Justice and the Elliot Alexander Fund.