Seth Holmes - April 23, 2014

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 | Music Room 176 (Concert Hall) | 4-5:30 pm

Seth M. Holmes PhD, MD, Martin Sisters Assistant Professor

Department of Health and Social Behavior

 University of California Berkeley

Download a copy of the event flyer (PDF)

Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies: Migrant Farmworkers in the United States. 

This book is an ethnographic witness to the everyday lives and suffering of Mexican migrants. Based on five years of research in the field (including berry-picking and traveling with migrants back and forth from Oaxaca up the West Coast), Holmes, an anthropologist and MD in the mold of Paul Farmer and Didier Fassin, uncovers how market forces, anti-immigrant sentiment, and racism undermine health and health care. Holmes’ material is visceral and powerful—for instance, he trekked with his informants illegally through the desert border into Arizona, where they were apprehended and jailed by the Border Patrol. After he was released from jail (and his companions were deported back to Mexico), Holmes interviewed Border Patrol agents, local residents, and armed vigilantes in the borderlands. He lived with indigenous Mexican families in the mountains of Oaxaca and in farm labor camps in the United States, planted and harvested corn, picked strawberries, accompanied sick workers to clinics and hospitals, participated in healing rituals, and mourned at funerals for friends. The result is a "thick description" that conveys the full measure of struggle, suffering, and resilience of these farmworkers.


Seth M. Holmes is Martin Sisters Endowed Chair Assistant Professor in the UC Berkeley School of Public Health’s Community Health and Human Development Division and the Graduate Program in Medical Anthropology. He received his Ph. D. in Medical Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley and San Francisco, and his M.D. from the University of California, San Francisco. He completed his internship and residency in internal medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, followed by the Robert Wood Johnson Health & Society Scholars program at Columbia University. His work focuses broadly on the role that perceptions of difference play in the production and reproduction of social hierarchies and health inequalities. Dr. Holmes is currently initiating ethnographic research in California exploring the social, cultural, and political logics for HIV death rates of specific classes of people, notably Latino migrant day laborers. He also maintains a clinical work in HIV primary care and palliative care in the California public health system.