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Negotiating power: A new discourse of the maquiladora industry in Ciudad Juarez

James H Hamm, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The Mexican maquiladora industry was thirty-four years old in 1999, the second summer of my field work. Many maquiladora workers are second and in a few cases third generation in their families in the industry. This dissertation is about the spaces they have negotiated. Maquiladora workers live a variety of lifestyles. Some get up in the morning, go to work and return to their families at the end of their shifts. Others have started or are saving to start their own enterprises. Some (especially women) have used the economic stability wage work provides to leave the confines of their families or marriages. Some maquiladora workers have renegotiated family relations, in part as a result of their financial independence and their experience of gender equality in the workplace. A few have moved in and out of the industry to bridge slow periods in their independent entrepreneurial activities. Collectively, and in some cases individually, maquiladora workers have affected the conditions and relations of production where they work. I will interpret their stories discourse of difference, one in which relations of power are produced, not assumed. My goal is to contribute to changing the direction of the academic debate that has surrounded the industry by constructing a new way of seeing what is happening and how participants are affected. Opening a new discursive space can allow that which is there but not seen to emerge and perhaps offer new political and economic possibilities for maquiladora workers.

Subject Area

Cultural anthropology|Business costs|Geography

Recommended Citation

Hamm, James H, "Negotiating power: A new discourse of the maquiladora industry in Ciudad Juarez" (2005). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3163670.