The Social Mechanics of Hop Production: The Relationships Between People and Machines in the Yakima Valley Hops Fields

Document Type


Department or Administrative Unit

Anthropology and Museum Studies

Publication Date

Fall 2021


The Yakima Valley is said to produce more than 75% of hops (Humulus lupulus) nationwide; the vast majority of the labor required to ‘train,’ grow, and harvest these hops vines is performed by Mexican farm workers, who interact on a daily basis with industrial machinery. Like the vines, these machines require constant attention and care, propitiating a unique kind of relation between workers and their instruments of work—even if they do not own them. In this presentation we deliver a series of ethnographic vignettes that work as a companion to the visual rendition of the dialogues between workers and their machines at the peak of the harvest season. By personifying the machines, farm workers cultivate and manufacture pride in their labor as well as their identity within society. As a result of our trust relations with these farm workers, we can expose an otherwise vaguely known world of man and machine in the Yakima Valley.


This article was originally published in Journal of Northwest Anthropology. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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​Journal of Northwest Anthropology