Abstract: This article describes the historical and socioeconomic contexts of U.S. migrant labor programs and Peruvian (im)migration patterns, which have contributed to the widespread employment of Quechua sheepherders on U.S. pastures. Herder “guests” employed by “host” ranchers face a dangerous power imbalance: their legal status as temporary workers depends on the fulfillment of a contract offered by one specific employer. Following Derrida’s conception of hospitality as an irresolvable aporia, it is argued here that U.S. migrant labor programs lead herders into a “hospitality trap,” because they do not understand the language in which their work contracts are written; their status as temporary and legal workers contributes to legislators’ inattention to their appalling working and living conditions. Herder personal narratives relate the physical and emotional hardships they face as “orphans” (wakchakuna) on profit-driven ranches where husbandry practices bear little resemblance to Quechua beliefs regarding relationships of reciprocity between humans, animals, and the land.
Download full text: Quechua Sheepherders on the Mountain Plains of Wyoming- The (In)hospitality of U.S. Guest Worker Programs