The purpose of this thesis is to create a greater awareness about the community of migrant farm workers who have either settled in Maine’s Downeast regions, or travel to Maine seasonally for work. I have aimed to focus my research on developing answers to the following questions: why do people choose to migrate? What do Maine’s agricultural industries have to offer for a migrant farm worker? What challenges do they face? What challenges do the community of immigrants who choose to stay in Maine face? Are these communities underprivileged, and if so, what organizations are working to facilitate better opportunities for these people? By answering these questions, I have learned that migrant farm workers are not only responsible for bringing food to our tables, but also for our agricultural economic success in the state of Maine. We owe a lot to migrant farm workers, and this thesis will hopefully show what it is we can be doing for migrant farm workers to ensure a happier, healthier community.
In doing this research, I also wanted to ensure that I conveyed the importance of decolonizing anthropology, which largely involves holding ourselves accountable for what we choose to publish as anthropologists when writing about communities of people who might be considered “marginalized”. I discuss how using new methods of informant - based research can help introduce information that is more qualitative vs. quantitative, and although the surveys featured in this thesis produce several statistics on the overall health and socioeconomic background of migrant farm workers, I want to preface this data by stating that the people behind these numbers are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters, who work and live their every day lives just as any other person living in the United States would. Decolonizing anthropology is becoming increasingly more urgent as we aim to better understand and give back to indigenous communities, and the first step in doing that is done by listening first before sharing their stories.
Ruhlin, Olivia, "Migrant Farm Work in the State of Maine: Meeting the Community Needs of Maine's Working Immigrant Population" (2019). Honors College. 542.