Susana Narotzky: "Agricultural day Labor in Spain: The logics of (pandemic) capitalism."

The Departmental Seminar Series features Susana Narotzky, Professor of social anthropology at the university of Barcelona.

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This seminar will be a hybrid seminar where you can participate in person or via Zoom. Join Zoom Meeting.


When the COVID-19 lockdown policies were announced, exceptions were made for “essential workers” which included a wide range of professions. Work in health, care, infrastructures, and food provisioning required presence, proximity, and continuity. It transpired that an important sector of the population whose livelihood depends on precarious jobs were both essential and worthless,exemplifying a core characteristic of capitalist accumulation practices, and confinement was not an option as their entire families lived hand to mouth on their daily wages. 

I will analyze the case of agricultural migrant day laborers who are key actors in the food provisioning processes of Spain and Europe as a whole. I will follow policy responses to the COVID-19 events, as well as the farmers’, day laborers’ and activists’ actions and mobilizations, showing how they highlight existing tensions, rather than pointing at new ones. In this process, the question of movement (temporary migrant workers, circulation of labor following agricultural campaigns), accommodation (settlement, housing), exploitation (wages, work conditions), and health are tightly knit with symbolic constructions of racial and ethnic worthlessness and disposability. Finally, I will draw some conclusions regarding the overlaps in the valuation of agricultural labor (essential, migrant, gendered, racialized and ethnicized) and how they interlock with the valorization processes.

Published Aug. 12, 2021 10:31 PM - Last modified Oct. 12, 2021 2:21 PM