Cover of Capitalist Colonial by Matan Kaminer
Capitalist Colonial
Thai Migrant Workers in Israeli Agriculture
Matan Kaminer

November 2024
256 pages.
from $30.00

Hardcover ISBN: 9781503640511
Paperback ISBN: 9781503641099



For decades, the agricultural settlements of Israel's arid Central Arabah prided themselves on their labor-Zionist commitment to abstaining from hiring outside labor. But beginning in the late 1980s, the region's agrarian economy was rapidly transformed by the removal of state protections, a shift to export-oriented monoculture, and an influx of disenfranchised, ill-paid migrants from northeast Thailand (Isaan). Capitalist Colonial, Matan Kaminer's ethnography of the region and its people, argues that the paid and unpaid labor of Thai migrants has been essential to resolving the clashing demands of the bottom line and Zionist ideology here as elsewhere in Israel's farm sector.

Kaminer's account mobilizes capitalism and colonialism as a combined analytical frame to comprehend the forms of domination prevailing in the Arabah. Placing the findings of fieldwork as a farm laborer within the ecological, economic, and political histories of the Arabah and Isaan, Kaminer draws surprising connections between the violent takeover of peripheral regions, the imposition of agrarian commodity production, and the emergence of transnational labor flows. Insisting on the liberatory possibilities immanent in the "interaction ideologies" found among both migrant workers and settler employers, and raising the question of the place of migrants who are neither Jewish nor Arab in visions of decolonization, this book demonstrates anthropology's ongoing relevance to the struggle for local and global transformations.

About the author

Matan Kaminer is an anthropologist and a Lecturer at the School of Business and Management, Queen Mary University of London.