Farmers and farmworkers: Two centuries of strategic alterity in Kentucky's tobacco fields

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31 Scopus citations


Strategic alterity is defined here as a process of shifting between different assertions of devalued group identity in order to valorize free-trading citizens of the market and to mask the labor of those making that free market participation possible (by moralizing the devalorization). The examples provided here - based on ethnographic, oral history, and archival research in an eastern Kentucky, US community - focus on the ways that different markers of identity have characterized the farmworkers providing the low-wage or non-wage labor in tobacco over the past two centuries that has made it possible for those whose crops they work in to see themselves as independent, family farmers. Tobacco is viewed, here, as having always been a global crop produced by a 'globalized' labor force. The ideological arguments, most recently neoliberal, justifying the differential power (and 'market citizenship') of farmers and farm-workers are examined within a US context, with suggestions for comparative and historical approaches to interpreting current strategies of inclusion and exclusion related to neoliberal capitalist globalization. Copyright 2007

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-102
Number of pages16
JournalCritique of Anthropology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2007


  • Capitalist logic
  • Globalization
  • Labor
  • Strategic alterity
  • Tobacco
  • USA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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