The Governmentality of Immigration

The Governmentality of Immigration in Humboldt County: Place Making, Contested Identities and Cultural Fronts

Fernando Paz


Modern patterns of human migration have created great challenges for both host societies and migrating communities, which have elicited dramatic responses from both populations. This research will employ Intersectional Feminist framework of analysis couched within a larger theoretical framework of Governmentality and activism. The thesis will examine the manner in which the immigrant community in Humboldt County has responded to shifting social realities and how they have contended with it. One goal is to understand how immigration policies and discourses impact the way the Mexican immigrant communities (both documented and undocumented) provide for their survival. Another is to rigorously interrogate the various arts and techniques of governmentality. The investigation into this research topic is particularly timely because of the recent passing of the “Trust Act” by the California State legislature, which has created an opportunity to further immigration advocacy work at a local level. This research will use the raid on the Sun Valley Flower Farm as a starting point to explore the related social, political, economic, and cultural forces at play before, during, and after the raid. From this starting point I continue the analysis to the current organizing efforts for immigrant policy reform in Humboldt County. Focusing the analysis on three points of contention; Place Making, Identity (cultural, legal) and Cultural Fronts. To that end this thesis will employ a militant ethnographical approach, and archival research that will be complemented by a quantitative longitudinal statistical analysis of census data from the two previous decades. I contend that the outcomes of this research will have local implications as it could inform local organizing efforts and unpack interlocking systems of oppression in operation in Humboldt County as well as global applications that will enrich understandings of social conflicts that emerge from migration patterns.