¡Presente! Music, Mobilization, and Global Engagement: The Case of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers Público

Soltis, Laura Emiko (2012)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/sb397861m?locale=es


This dissertation presents a case study of the migrant farmworker movement led by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) in Immokalee, Florida. I conducted an interdisciplinary investigation that brings together the fields of social movements, ethnomusicology, and global studies. The research focuses on the formation and maintenance of ethnically diverse movements, the form and function of music and cultural repertoires in mobilization, and the relationship between local movements and global cultural processes. The movement has achieved remarkable success, as indicated by its interethnic solidarity among workers from Mexico, Guatemala, and Haiti, and its attainment of significant material improvements, including wage increases and improved working conditions. I argue that the movement's cultural repertoires - such as music programs on CIW's radio station, Radio Conciencia, and visual arts in Immokalee, and music and theater performances in public protests - were crucial to the movement's success. Adopting an ethnographic approach, I conducted field research in Immokalee during the 2010-2011 tomato harvest season. I employed several interrelated research methods: interviews, participant observation, archival research, and photography. I also used the methods of ethnomusicology, which included tuning in to Radio Conciencia and performing the Mexican son jarocho tradition in public demonstrations. I found that farmworker unity was achieved through a forthright recognition of ethnic differences, in which ethnic identity took on new meanings to signify membership in an immigrant coalition. This articulation of ethnic identity was often expressed through music and other cultural practices. I also found that CIW's attainment of material gains, such as a 70 percent wage increase and new rights protections, did not result from an increase in power or changes in federal laws. It was achieved through a strategy that targeted multinational corporations with a human rights framework, bypassing obstacles imposed by the state and relying on the power of legitimacy in the world polity. CIW effectively shamed its adversaries and conferred legitimacy on the movement through vibrant demonstrations filled with music, art, and theater. This study contributes to the study of social movement culture and globalization because it demonstrates how cultural aspects of mobilization can help movements with few resources succeed.

Table of Contents


Introduction 1

Chapter 1 19

Social Movements: Navigating Culture and Global Crossroads

Chapter 2 51

Methodology and Analysis

Chapter 3 104

Racial Formation in U.S. Agriculture:

The Making of Farmworker Powerlessness

Chapter 4 149

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers:

Migration, Popular Education, and Interethnic Mobilization 1992-2000

Chapter 5 211

Radio Conciencia:

Music and Maintenance of the Farmworker Movement 2001-2011

Chapter 6 301

Performing Solidarity:

Music, Ritual, and Theater in Public Demonstrations 2001-2011

A Son Jarocho Case Study

Chapter 7 431

Global Engagement:

World Culture, Human Rights, and Local Movement Success

Conclusion 515


Oral Histories 531

Figures and Tables 546

Visual Appendix 584

Audio Appendix 625

Bibliography 626

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