Department or Program

Environmental Studies


In this thesis, I explore the idea of farmworker dignity as a potential form of resistance to the ongoing history of agricultural exploitation in the U.S. South. I offer accounts of the history and present-day realities of farm labor in the South, employing the dual theoretical lenses of plantation space and the space of nonexistence as tools to unearth the underlying historical power structures and lineage of labor relations in which farmworkers today are situated. An analysis of the linguistic roots of the word dignity and the ways it is invoked in various relevant contexts helps me delve deeply into the plurality of meanings, responses to history, and visions for the future that the term has been understood to carry. I draw upon interviews conducted with members of the farmworker movement in North Carolina to better understand the notion of farmworker dignity as they use it in their work. I conclude by putting the concept of farmworker dignity in conversation with the themes and continuities of agricultural labor in the South throughout time, using this dialogue to explore the nuanced subversive implications of dignity as a means of reckoning with the past to envision a more just future for agriculture in the South.

Level of Access

Open Access

First Advisor

Costlow, Jane

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Open Access

Available to all.