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XXVth ESRS Congress

29 July 1 August 2013 in Florence, Italy

The global countryside:


migrations in rural South of Italy
Alessandra Corrado1

Abstract The global countryside has been made up


of post-fordist restructuring process, in the agrarian
sector as well. The migration dynamics in Southern
Italy has to be analyzed inside the general framework
of these rural and agrarian transformations structured in the last thirty years, but also considering the
redefinition of that Mediterranean Model of migrations as conceived at the moment of its theorization
on the basis of specific characteristics of migration
flows as well as arrival contexts of Southern Europe.
The research findings aims to contribute at a better
understanding of agrarian relations and rural society
inside neoliberal globalization.

INTRODUCTION
This paper focus on the composition of migration
labor into the agrarian sector in Southern Italy and
specifically in rural Calabria. It analyzes the dynamics of the reordering and transformation of rural
areas in relation to migration process and neoliberal
globalization, and investigate mechanisms of racism
and violence produced on different levels: the selective and stigmatizing differentiation promoted at a
political and institutional level; the violence perpetrated by local criminality; and the socio-cultural dynamics of exploitation and exclusion. It will argue
that political and institutional racism in modern societies is the result of policies of immigration, security,
and asylum, generating stigmatizing instruments for
the control and entry of migrants and differentiated
inclusion dynamics.
The global countryside recalling the definition of
global cities by Sassen (1999) - has been made up
of post-fordist restructuring process, in the agrarian
sector as well. The migration dynamics in Southern
Italy has to be analyzed inside the general framework of these rural and agrarian transformations
structured in the last thirty years, but also considering the redefinition of that Mediterranean Model of
migrations as conceived at the moment of its theorization on the basis of specific characteristics of migration flows as well as arrival contexts of Southern
Europe (King et al. 2000). The process of intensification and liberalization of fruit and vegetables production has stimulated the hypothesis of the structural
role of immigrant labor inside a division of labor on
ethnic or racial basis (Berlan 2002). However the
progressive autonomization of migrations from labor
demand by the development of social networks, different forms of resistance and reproduction, spatial
circulation and commuting among different works
and agrarian systems are questioning the idea of migrations as labor reserve army of capital.

METHODOLOGY

This paper builds on literature analysis and field research conducted over the last two years in Calabria,
an administrative region in southern Italy.
The empirical research has been carried out by qualitative methods in order to investigate and understand subjective process and relational dynamics
that have been hypothesized to be the factors sustaining resistance and autonomization process of migrations.
The research has focused on the working and living
conditions of immigrants in two specific areas of Calabria: the Plain of Gioia Tauro and the Plain of
Sibari, basically characterized by citrus production.
Although there exist differences between the two
areas and between the immigrants who inhabit them
due to factors related to the specific historical and
social organisation of each area, nevertheless the
discussion will also consider the single process of
transformation of rurality that migration has led to in
both areas. Because the conditions in each area are
a result of a wider production process of rurality that
has been underway over approximately the last fifteen years, many of the elements considered and
some of the conclusions reached here are identical
with those in other regions and rural areas of southern Europe as shown in recent studies (Colloca and
Corrado 2013; Kasimis 2008; Morice and Michealon
2008).
The research findings aims to contribute at a better
understanding of agrarian relations and rural society
inside neoliberal globalization.
RACIALIZATION AND DIFFERENTIATED INCLUSION

Much research into community, racism, and racialisation has been conducted in metropolitan urban
settings, but it is only recently that race in rural
areas has begun to receive attention. A key theme
of existing research on race in rural areas is that of
racial violence. This work will consider issues around
the intersection of the global and the regional, and
the fluidity of racialisation as a process of differentiation and ordering based on the idea of race in
a setting in which many ethnic or national minorities
and different migration categories are present in a
transitory and mobile way due to ongoing political,
economic, and socio-cultural changes. Racism and
racialisation are embedded in discourses and processes that differentiate immigrants status or condi-

XXVth ESRS Congress

29 July 1 August 2013 in Florence, Italy

tions also in relation to local communities and inside


rural areas.
As in many other southern European countries, in
Italy many immigrants working in the harvest are
living or working illegally, receive very low salaries,
and live in huts such that typically they are isolated
from each other as well as from the local population.
National and supranational immigration policies have
led to the enclosure and territorialisation of some
types of migrants in Western Europe. The expansion
of the European Union has redrawn the map for international mobility.
The process of differentiation or of utilisation and
production of differences arises not just between
the immigrants and the autochthonous population,
but also among the different national groups of immigrants and between legal and illegal immigrants.
This process operates according to the existing
mechanisms of exploitation and pigeonholing within
the organisation of the production system. These
mechanisms are represented by the form that the
labour engagement or staying takes (legal/illegal),
the way that the work is remunerated (per day/per
piece), the structuring of the working relationship
over time (turnover/continuity), and by the provision
of services (transport, accommodation, food, work
brokering). The utilisation of the differences passes
not only through the ethnic segmentation of the labour market and of farm production itself, but also
through the ethnic or racial fragmentation of the
welfare state by means of denial, restriction, or unlawful acquisition of social security services and benefits. In southern Italy these exploitation mechanisms and stratification devices represent further
tools for the expansion and fluidisation of an underground economy that is already part of the social
fabric but which finds a rearticulation within the
post-Fordist processes of restructuring and informalisation.

CONCLUSION
The presence of migrants in rural areas is driving
important transformations that are tending toward
the creation of a new social stratification based
primarily on exploitation and parasitic rent-seeking
but also based on the management of diversity, a
social stratification that sustains the labour-intensification process in agriculture and facilitates its reproduction within a framework of neoliberal liberalisation processes.
Nevertheless the transformation of migrations, and
the subjectivisation processes that this transformation produces, have resulted in a continuous dislocation of the function of reserve army of labour to
which capital attempts to reduce such migrations.
Complex forms of mobility, commuting between
farming systems that may be dissimlar (between
peasant subsistence farming and market-oriented
capitalistic agriculture), and networks of cooperation
between areas and between different social contexts

act to transmit and produce resources, information,


and experiences.

REFERENCES
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Colloca, C. and Corrado A. (a cura di) (2013). La
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