I have lived in Latin America, mainly Mexico, on and off for the last decade where I primarily worked as a freelance journalist. I was awarded a Fulbright grant for the 2012-13 academic year to research the life histories of migrant workers in Mexico. It was during this year that I first visited a Mexican town in the state of Veracruz where a recruiter in Texas contracts workers to labor in the American carnival industry on short-term visas. I eventually decided to write a book about the exploitation of Mexican carnival workers as a graduate student at the UC Berkeley Journalism School. I applied for a Tinker Field Research Travel Grant to follow up with some of the workers I first met in Mexico several years ago. Several of the workers had sued their U.S. employer since we first met and I wanted to see how the lawsuit, which is still unresolved, had affected them. On this trip to Mexico funded by my travel grant, I learned that many deeply regretted joining the case because they had become blacklisted from returning to the U.S. carnivals by their recruiter. I will use the insights that I gained on this trip to write the closing chapters of my book as well as complete a radio documentary that I’m developing about the subject for my master’s thesis.
August 27, 2016