projects

2016-2017: New Plantations: Migrant Mobility, ‘Illegality’ and Racialisation in European Agricultural Labour

Funded by SNIS

This project engages in a comparative enquiry into the triple dynamics of race, space and “illegality” in the reproduction of migrant precarious labour conditions in European agro-industrial labour markets. What are the mechanisms of differential inclusion and segregation of migrant workers in the agro-industrial labour markets? We try to answer this question through a systematic comparison of five original case studies that are currently almost uncovered by research on migrant labour in Italian, Swiss and Belgian horticulture.

2013-2018: The impact of mineral governance on miners’ property rights: a comparative case study from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

Funded by Swiss National Science Foundation

The  project aims to test the validity of the ‘resource curse’ paradigm through a comparative case study analysis of transnational mineral governance in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It specifically concentrates on the transformation of the rights of use and access to natural resources enacted through the classification, standardization and formalization of these rights in selected mining enclaves in Katanga and South Kivu (Eastern DRC). The focus of the project will be on one specific set of minerals (tantalite, tin ore and tungsten – the three T’s) and their regulation through the ITRI Tin Supply Chain Initiative (iTSCi). In doing so it assesses the way this reform process impacts on the performance of mineral markets in both mining areas, and what impact this has on the institutional choice patterns of mine workers. In sum the study aims to provide more insights into the political ecology of natural resource markets in countries emerging from protracted armed conflict, specifically detailing (1) the transnational dimension of economic regulation and (2) its impact on the institutional choice patterns of direct natural users of natural resources in the specific case of the DRC.

Further contacts: Christoph Vogel

2013-2015: The precarious and multiple spaces of youth displacement in eastern DRC

funded by FAFO

This analysis concentrates on the dynamic space of forced displacement in the extremely fluid and uncertain context of political transition in Africa’s Great Lakes Region. It specifically zooms in Eastern Congolese youth, a subgroup that has played a preponderant role in violent restructuring during the region’s protracted war. African youth are frequently portrayed as in-between and almost non-citizens who float between childhood and adult life worlds. In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), some youth played a particularly active role in armed violence by taking up arms as Mayi Mayi fighters and other armed groups. Whereas most studies focus on violent youngsters and their problematic integration into post-war society, this analysis consciously takes the perspective of non-combatant youth, trying to answer the question in which places non armed displaced youngsters are trying to construct and imagine a better life. In the aftermath of such a long and violent conflict (1996-2003), and considering the current obsesion with youth bulges in post-war reconstruction policy, it seems indeed a legitimate question to ask what is becoming of these non-combatant youth in terms of capacities, practices and structural conditions. In particular, this analysis concentrates on the often multiscalar space in which this youth displacement occurs, between physical borders, cities and rural hinterlands, and between individual attempts to making a living and imagining a proper life. Besides its strong geographic methodology, this analysis subscribes to a much wider effort to elucidate the underlying dimension of identity and life making in the political economy of post-warfare, which brings about certain constraints and possibilities. This (inter)subjective dimension of livelihood restructuring during and in the aftermath of war has often been neglected in dominant livelihoods and policy research. The general aim of this analysis, therefore, is to offer insights into the ways young people who have been forcebly displaced by armed violence are trying to construct an autonomous place among multiple registers and hallmarks.

Further contacts: Morten Bøås

2013-2015

The city ghettoes of today

Funded by ECF

The ghetto according to Franco LaCecla is “a boundary, a space, where (…) you are in front of a dislocation, a displacement. The border to those inside and those outside represents a feeling of loss, but it is also a mirror of each other’s identity, a threshold that allows us to refine our identity and filter others.” Using this definition, the ghetto itself bears many parallels to the artistic process, an act of creation which helps to define one’s identity and distinguish it from others. After a preparatory period, the project will involve 9 international activities (one kick-off meeting-debate in Sep.2013, 6 ten-day workshops in 6 European cities (Bologna, Milan, Helsinki, Warsaw, Paris, Berlin) run by artists from different artistic backgrounds from all over Europe in, one conclusive activity in Warsaw in 01.2015 and one evaluation meeting with partners in 02.2015. The artistic workshops will be run in migrant districts of those 6 cities and will be prepared in collaboration with a network of organisations working on the themes of migration and art in the selected areas.

Further contacts: Strefa Wolnowslowa

2007-2011:

MICROCON

Violent conflicts are frequently perceived as a form of state and governance failure. Conflicts often offer the opportunity for new classes of local and regional strongmen to challenge political powers. In most conflicts, a number of actors (militia-leaders and members, political elites, businessmen, petty traders, but also households and groups) have tried to improve their position and to exploit the opportunities offered by a context of internal conflict. The result is that relations between populations and politico-military or economic elites are reshaped by violent conflicts. Rather than simply disrupting or destroying the local social and economic fabric, conflicts create new opportunities for some even as it takes them away from others. Even more, in a context of weak state administrations, certain non-state actors can be witnessed to provide valuable public goods. The question then is, to explain how these dynamics of violence have led to the formation of new forms of power and control and what these new forms of local governance include: To what extent can actions of violent political or economic entrepreneurs promote order and provide public goods?  What do these ‘new forms of governance’ include, who do they integrate, who is leading them? What impact do these stateless patterns of power have on processes of formal state-building?

further contacts: MICROCON

 

Recent Posts

Felandina eviction

Two days ago, the mayor of Bernalda, Domenico Tataranno, officially announced the imminent eviction of the migrant ocupation La Felandina, located in the industrial zone of Metaponto. The building has been occupied since a year by approximately 600 migrant workers, a majority of which are in possession of regular residence papers, according to official police sources. The migrants offer their labour to agricultural enterprises in the area. Since a few years the Basilicata and Calabria coastline has effectively become Southern Italy’s grocery garden: from the famous strawberries harvested in early Spring to the fruit and vegetables that are cultivated here over the Summer and Autumn, production continues throughout the year. Farmers sell their produce under often unfavourable contracts to the big distribution networks through intermediaries located in Puglia and Campania.

Speaking at a public meeting, the mayor said he took his decision after a long series of meetings with the Prefecture, Town Hall, and competent authorities – notwithstanding the acknowledgement, by the territiorial prefecture, that migrant workers who come to the area have difficulty finding alternative forms of accommodation. “It will be up to the State, through the security forces, to implement the eviction in practice. We will try, with the collaboration of those poor people, to find the best solution from a logistic point of view,” Tataranno concluded.

In March this year, the head of Basilicata’s Migrant Policy Coordination, Pietro Simonetti officially promised a temporary reception facility for 150 seasonal migrant workers, which so far has not been concretely defined. In the meantime, therefore, migrant workers have no other alternative other than occupying a new site.

Migrant tent camps in Metaponto, March 2018

It is not the first time it comes to such tensions in the area of Metaponto. Already in 2018, the mayor of Bernalda ordered the clearance of various tent camps located under the town’s bridges and in the many abandoned warehouses in the area. Like much of Basilicata, the area continues to be affected by a progressive abandonment, driven by a lack of institutional capacities and employment opportunities. Specifically, the 2018 eviction followed an open letter in which Metaponto’s residents denounced the, in their view, “disproportionate” presence of immigrant citizens who come to the area to work. Declaring a state of emergency, they asked the mayor to restore law and order in the area. 

The same year, two agricultural entrepreneurs and one gangmaster based in Metaponto had been officially indighted for illicit labour recruitment, which has become an offence under the new anti-racket legislation. Altogether, these events reveal once more the paradox of the current legislative context, which regards migrant labour intermediation as a criminal offense, but at the same time refuses to address its root causes beyond a mere logistical perspective. 

La Felandina (c) OMB
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