state:
New Jersey
Local history:
Seabrook Farms and “Free” Labor
How is the racialized prisoner the ideal worker?
Rutgers University-New Brunswick
National Traveling Venue:
Douglass Library, Rutgers University New Brunswick
8 Chapel Drive, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8527
January 22, 2018March 9, 2018

NJ: States of Incarceration Newark Opening

Wednesday, October 18th

Project for Empty Space

2 Gateway Center

Newark, NJ 07102

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New Jersey: Seabrook Farms and “Free” Labor
How is the racialized prisoner the ideal worker?
Rutgers University-New Brunswick

Our exploration of Seabrook Farms and its layered histories examines the wartime relationship between captive labor and capitalism, and how social control extended beyond the immediate confines of internment camps. Renowned for its flash-frozen vegetables, by 1950 Seabrook Farms was the largest agribusiness in the United States, employing more than 6,000 laborers. World War II created new opportunities for Seabrook to procure laborers with limited options. This included approximately 2,500 American citizens and immigrants of Japanese descent incarcerated in camps. While federal officials defended internment as a matter of national security, no evidence backed this claim. Internment did reflect white Americans’ longstanding belief that Japanese immigrants and their children were racially unassimilable. At Seabrook, paroled internees worked alongside displaced persons, POWs, and contracted migrant laborers, groups whose freedom of mobility and choice were similarly constrained. A company town, Seabrook’s power over its workforce blurred the line between captivity and freedom.

Our Point of View

The history of Seabrook Farms is largely forgotten in New Jersey. Our state’s residents rarely think about where their food comes from, who grows it, and what costs are associated with its production. In this story, production comes at the cost of civil liberties, self-determination, and racial equality. Given the relevance of these issues today, we want to remind people that the forced choice between security and rights can create unanticipated, complicated consequences.

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New Jersey: Seabrook Farms and “Free” Labor    Rutgers University-New Brunswick
How is the racialized prisoner the ideal worker?
New Jersey: Seabrook Farms and “Free” Labor
How is the racialized prisoner the ideal worker?
  Rutgers University-New Brunswick

National Exhibition Venue    Douglass Library, Rutgers University New Brunswick

Public Dialogues and Events
| January 22 – March 9, 2018

See Full Exhibition & Events Schedule
Exhibition
Jan 22, 2018
Big Oaks Farm Security Administration camp

1943: 516 Jamaican men employed by Seabrook lived in the Big Oaks Farm Security Administration camp. Guestworkers entered the U.S. under government contracts that prohibited them from changing jobs. Courtesy of: Library of Congress

Big Oaks Farm Security Administration camp

1943: 516 Jamaican men employed by Seabrook lived in the Big Oaks Farm Security Administration camp. Guestworkers entered the U.S. under government contracts that prohibited them from changing jobs. Courtesy of: Library of Congress

Monday, January 22, 2018

NJ: States of Incarceration New Brunswick Opening

Description: 

Our exploration of Seabrook Farms and its layered histories examines the wartime relationship between captive labor and capitalism, and how social control extended beyond the immediate confines of internment camps.

Renowned for its flash-frozen vegetables, by 1950 Seabrook Farms was the largest agribusiness in the United States, employing more than 6,000 laborers. World War II created new opportunities for Seabrook to procure laborers with limited options. This included approximately 2,500 American citizens and immigrants of Japanese descent incarcerated in camps. While federal officials defended internment as a matter of national security, no evidence backed this claim and no formal charges were...read more…

Venue: 

Douglass Library
8 Chapel Drive
New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8527

States of Incarceration is created by over 500 people in 17 states, and growing. We explore the roots of mass incarceration in our own communities—to open national dialogue on what should happen next. Click on a state to learn more.

States of Incarceration is created by over 500 people in 17 states, and growing. We explore the roots of mass incarceration in our own communities—to open national dialogue on what should happen next. Click on a state to learn more.

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