Liminal Living: Everyday Injury, Disability, and Instability among Migrant Mexican Women in Maryland’s Seafood Industry


Mexican women constitute an increasing proportion of labor migrants to the United States. They are segregated into a handful of low‐wage occupations, disadvantaged by global economic forces and the social construction of gender within employment relations. Drawing on ethnographic research from Maryland’s Eastern Shore, I explore experiences of everyday injury, disability, and instability among Mexican migrant women who work in the commercial crab processing industry, which is increasingly dependent on the H‐2B visa program to fill seasonal, non‐agricultural jobs. By focusing on the daily lives of Mexican migrant women who are part of this labor force, their health and social needs, and the gendered dimensions of labor migration, I document how temporary work programs institutionalize liminality as permanent mode of being. I suggest that migrant women, amid the extraordinary uncertainty brought about by the processes of recurrent migration, reorient and recalibrate themselves through modes of conduct to make life more ordinary.