The Braceros and the Rubber Soldiers: A History of Labor and Power in the Americas | Exhibition
Braceros and the Rubber Soldiers is an exhibition of historical photographs that juxtaposes the histories of two of the most important joint governmental programs between the U.S., Brazil, and Mexico during the Second World War. The WWII Emergency Farm Labor Program, popularly known as the Bracero Program, operated between 1942 and 1964, bringing Mexican guest workers to the U.S., who were then assigned as agricultural laborers. Concurrently in South America, in 1943, the Special Service Mobilizing Workers to the Amazon (SEMTA) enlisted a cheap labor force from the impoverished Brazilian Northeast region, transforming them into “rubber soldiers.” These individuals journeyed north to extract latex from seringueira trees in the Amazon rainforest, contributing significantly to the production of rubber exported to the Allies during the war. The exhibition, comprising 15 pairs of historical images, provides a visual narrative depicting daily life within recruitment centers and lodging facilities in Mexico, the U.S., and Brazil. The show uses the lens of the built environment to untangle complex themes such as race and racialization and its connections to labor and migration patterns, and the power and influence of international politics in the construct of modern — and contemporary — planning in Latin America.
Exhibition curated by Laura Belik, doctoral candidate in architecture.
Thursday, February 15
4:30 PM Exhibition Opening Reception
Bauer Wurster Hall Elevator Lobby
5:30 PM Panel Discussion
Baur Wurster Hall, Room 172
6:30 PM, 112 Documentary Screening
112 Bauer Wurster Hall
Department of Architecture at UC Berkeley's College of Environmental Design
The Joan E. Draper Architectural History Research Endowment
Townsend Center for the Humanities
Berkeley Food Institute
Chicanx Latinx Studies UC Berkeley
Global Metropolitan Studies UC Berkeley
Center for Race and Gender UC Berkeley
Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies UC Berkeley
Latin American Cities Working Group
Department of Spanish & Portuguese
Department of Ethnic Studies
The Latinx Research Center
About the curator
Laura Belik is a doctoral candidate in architecture at UC Berkeley. She holds an MA in design studies from Parsons- The New School (New York) and a BArch in architecture and urban planning from Escola da Cidade (São Paulo- Brazil). Her current doctoral work delves into the histories and memories of early 20th-century migrant labor camps established for retirantes das secas (drought refugees) in Northeast Brazil, investigating the role of the built environment in shaping the modern Brazilian state. Laura has curated and co-curated exhibitions in Brazil and the U.S., including the recent Bunker: the optimism of the pessimistic. Her latest publications include the book chapter “Mobilizing Labor for Infrastructure in Northeast Brazil, 1915–1932” in The Routledge Handbook of Infrastructure Design (2022) and the paper “Paxiúba: Traditional Housing in the Western Amazon” published in Architectural Theory Review (2021).
Free and open to the public
If you require accommodations, contact Laura Belik at firstname.lastname@example.org or 510.944.9741.