Postcolonial citizenships and the ‘refugeeization’ of the workforce: migrant agricultural labor in the Italian Mezzogiorno

Dines, Nick and Rigo, Enrica (2015) Postcolonial citizenships and the ‘refugeeization’ of the workforce: migrant agricultural labor in the Italian Mezzogiorno. In: Postcolonial transitions in Europe: contexts, practices and politics. Ponzanesi, Sandra and Colpani, Gianmaria, eds. Frontiers of the Political: Doing International Politics . Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, MD, USA, pp. 151-172. ISBN 9781783484461. [Book Section]


This chapter examines migrant labor in the agricultural sector of Southern Italy as a lens through which to interrogate the impact of broader economic, political and institutional changes upon migration and citizenship. The upheavals in North Africa during 2011, coupled with the severe financial crisis of Southern Europe, have deeply reshaped the Euro-Mediterranean border area. Drawing on the tools of postcolonial theory, this chapter combines different perspectives and levels of analysis to critically conceptualize these transformations, focusing in particular on Southern Italy. First, this chapter addresses the rhetorical frames that have been used in public discourse in the last decade, to portray migrants who work in agriculture in the Italian Mezzogiorno as victims of slavery, driven by desperation and lacking in agency. This image reaffirms an almost feudal situation that feeds into stereotypes about the backward nature of Southern Italian society. While this picture might be considered a legacy of the center/periphery dichotomy around which Italy has always been represented, it also tends to leave out the key players in the production chain that are embedded in the global food industry, such as the local agro-business or processing industry. Second, the chapter considers the European management of migration flows across the Mediterranean Sea with the aim of demonstrating the consequences that border regimes have had on the Italian South. Finally, the perspectives of the first two sections are integrated to illustrate how the increasing ‘humanitarian’ management of migration tends to overshadow the centrality of labor relations while at the same time producing, what we term, the ‘refugeeization’ of the workforce.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: Migrant agricultural labor; postcolonial capitalism; Italian Mezzogiorno; humanitarianism; refugeeization of workforce
Research Areas: A. > School of Law > Criminology and Sociology
Item ID: 14602
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Depositing User: Nick Dines
Date Deposited: 22 Apr 2015 11:00
Last Modified: 24 Oct 2018 10:51

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