The Devil's Fruit: Farmworkers, Health, and Environmental Justice (Medical Anthropology) (Hardcover)

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The Devil's Fruit: Farmworkers, Health, and Environmental Justice (Medical Anthropology) By Dvera I. Saxton Cover Image


The Devil's Fruit describes the facets of the strawberry industry as a harm industry, and explores author Dvera Saxton’s activist ethnographic work with farmworkers in response to health and environmental injustices. She argues that dealing with devilish—as in deadly, depressing, disabling, and toxic—problems requires intersecting ecosocial, emotional, ethnographic, and activist labors. Through her work as an activist medical anthropologist, she found the caring labors of engaged ethnography take on many forms that go in many different directions. Through chapters that examine farmworkers’ embodiment of toxic pesticides and social and workplace relationships, Saxton critically and reflexively describes and analyzes the ways that engaged and activist ethnographic methods, frameworks, and ethics aligned and conflicted, and in various ways helped support still ongoing struggles for farmworker health and environmental justice in California. These are problems shared by other agricultural communities in the U.S. and throughout the world.

About the Author

DVERA I. SAXTON is an assistant professor of anthropology at California State University, Fresno.

Praise For…

"A comprehensive account of the many abuses faced by farmworkers attempting to eke out a living in California’s industrial agriculture. With a compendium of actual lived farmworker experiences, the author makes a compelling case for the premise that farmworkers are discardable human beings hired to make a profit for their employer, irrespective of the many dangers that often result in disease, disability and even death. Reform is needed now!"
— Ann López

"Dvera Saxton's The Devil's Fruit is an urgent read—at once a detailed account of how life-threatening harm to farmworkers is literally baked into the system of industrial agriculture and a rousing activist-scholar call to action. Told with outrage and compassion, the stories of anti-pesticide, immigrant rights, and farmworker organizers reminds us of the long standing movements for farmworker justice in California and will be tactically useful for scholars, organizers, activists, students, and anyone who wants to challenge these deeply troubling conditions."
— Erica Kohl-Arenas

"Farmworkers Are Both #AlwaysEssential and Perpetually Disposable: How Can We Change All That?" by Dvera I. Saxton

"For anyone seeking to understand the...current-day complexities of both undocumented and resident farmworkers’ lived realities, Saxton’s book is a wonderful place to start. As a medical anthropologist, Saxton takes an 'activist ethnographic' approach to her research, meaning that her labors of care and accompaniment were inseparable from her role as a data collector and witness to the struggle of strawberry farmworkers in California’s Central Valley region. While accessible to lay readers and academics alike, the book may be especially useful to anthropology students, as Saxton explores, in first-person narrative, both research methods and the challenges of embedding oneself in a community facing multilayered vulnerabilities."
— Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development

"Strange: challenging pandemic logics," by Aimee Rickman and Dvera I. Saxton
— Monthly Review

"The Devil’s Fruit brings together more than a decade’s worth of research and writing by Saxton on the lot of strawberry farmworkers. The breadth and extent of her multidisciplinary research is breathtaking."
— Journal of Industrial Relations

"This book is very thoroughly researched and very detailed. It is recommended for faculty researchers and students interested in medical anthropology, environmental justice, the plight of im/migrant  farmworkers, environmental  science  or legal protections for farmworkers. It is recommended  for academic  libraries with social science or science programs related to these areas."
— Electronic Green Journal

"Overall, the book is well written, timely, and engaging. It is perfectly suited for introductory anthropology courses and is sure to engage undergraduate students new to the discipline and interested in matters such as food justice, immigration, politics, and environmental justice... The Devil’s Fruit serves as an important primer to critical medical anthropology’s history of activist engagement and political action."
— Noah Kline

"The California strawberry industry is facing a challenging future as the chemicals, the water, and the labor pool it depended on slip from its grasp. It unlikely that the baskets of golfball-sized fruit that fill supermarket bins will be there ten years from now. The stories that Saxton and others tell about the sacrifices required, of humans and of nature, to grow this fruit lead us to ask: isn’t it time to let the season-less strawberry go?"

— E. Melanie DuPuis
Product Details
ISBN: 9780813598628
ISBN-10: 0813598621
Publisher: Rutgers University Press
Publication Date: February 12th, 2021
Pages: 252
Language: English
Series: Medical Anthropology