Contesting Definitions, Institutional Responses, and Rights: Introduction to a Special Issue on Migrant Workers

Manoj Dias-Abey, Kevin Banks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)


It is in this context that the Centre for Law in the Contemporary Workplace, with the generous support of the Queen’s University Faculty of Law and the Le Centre de recherche interuniversitaire sur la mondialisation et le travail (CRIMT) Institutional Experimentation for Better Work Partnership Project, organized the ‘Migrants at Work in Canada’ symposium on 20 and 21 April 2018 in Kingston, Ontario. The symposium assembled a multidisciplinary group of academic researchers as well as advocates from prominent migrant justice organizations. The four articles that appear in this special issue are the fruits of this exchange. Some of the articles have a Canadian and US focus although their significance reaches well beyond the borders of North America, while others take a more explicitly international approach.

The theme of contestation inflected the proceedings at the symposium. Contributors sought to broaden our definition of a migrant worker, while others challenged the language we use to describe some forms of work performed by migrants. Other speakers contested the adequacy of existing institutional responses, even when government actors have made good faith attempts to improve the situation. Finally, the contribution made by the seven migrant justice organizations present (Agricultural Workers Alliance, Coalition of Immokalee Workers, Farmworker Legal Assistance Clinic (Cornell), Immigrant Workers Centre, Justice in Motion, Justicia, and Transnational Legal Clinic (University of Pennsylvania)) helped foreground the agency of migrant workers, who actively contest their subordination through acts of resistance, both small and grand.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-161
JournalInternational Journal of Comparative Labour Law
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Structured keywords

  • LAW Centre for Law at Work


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