‘New slavery’ and the afterlives of the plantation in contemporary Europe - reflections from Italy’s agro-industrial enclaves

GI Seminars
Fri . 31 May . 13h40 to 14h50
Sala Polivalente - ICS-ULisboa
‘New slavery’ and the afterlives of the plantation in contemporary Europe - reflections from Italy’s agro-industrial enclaves
Irene Peano

Building on fifteen years of engaged, militant research and activism on the issue of migrant labour exploitation, and in dialogue with the research of the COLOR project, the paper asks to what extent contemporary (media, legal, corporate) discourses on 'new forms of slavery' can be seen to evoke the spectre of the plantation, and to what effects. With reference to the Italian agro-industrial sector as my case study, I ask where, if at all, the plantation can be seen to survive or resurface in contemporary Europe, and in what forms.

Radical and critical commentators tend to oppose the gloss of slavery as an exception-making mechanism. Such discourse, they argue, reduces extreme forms of exploitation to the remnants of a distant past, without recognizing the continuities between different forms of labour exploitation and management that are foundational to the current political-economic system. Yet, the plantation arguably haunts the present in more ways than one. By means of a genealogical and typological analysis of contemporary forms of containment and violent extraction, the re-deployment of dispositifs that were first devised in the trans-Atlantic trade and the plantation system can begin to emerge, and further our understanding of the current as conjuncture in relation to multiple epochs as they articulate in the present..

Sobre a oradora
Irene Peano holds a PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge and is currently employed as a post-doctoral researcher at the Institute of Social Sciences, University of Lisbon, within an ERC Project titled 'The colour of labour: the racialised lives of migrants' (PI Cristiana Bastos). Her main research areas include migration and labour (particularly sex work and farm labour), especially from the point of view of subjectification and resistance and in relation to patterns of containment and exploitation in their various (spatial, material, discursive, legal, intersubjective, affective) dimensions. Among these, processes of racialization and gendering are prominent focuses of her analysis. Besides engaging in participatory research, she also investigates these processes through genealogical methods, focusing specifically on the afterlives of forms of forced labour, racialisation and techniques of containment, and on how they manifest also in the history of ideas, within and outside academia.

Org.: Luísa Coutinho, Nuno Domingos e Patrícia Ferraz de Matos.

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