Bitter Oranges

Following on from “Welcome to Europe!“, a highly informative article by Carole Reckinger & Gilles Reckinger on the plight of sub-Saharan migrant workers in the orange plantations of Rosarno (published in Issue 1 of Le monde n’est pas rond), the two researchers, together with anthropologist Diana Reiners, have just returned from a second field trip in southern Italy. Carole Reckinger wrote in from Foggia, where the tomatoes are picked:

“The situation is just crazy. I mean we know how bad the situation is, but each day we learn something new and it is just heartbreaking. It is really a new form of slavery. We talked about it a bit today, and actually it is a step further than slavery. In classical slavery, the slaves were the property of the landowners. You make sure your property stays in a more or less good shape, even if you exploit them. In this new situation, people don’t belong to anyone, and are completely interchangeable. The exploiters don’t even need to make the slightest effort.

Rosarno during the summer was hard. 40 plus degrees, no shade, no work. Depression, and no medical and mental health care.”

Carole, Diana and Gilles have just launched Bitter Oranges, a website documenting their research project. It contains new photographs showing how the orange pickers live, and a three-minute video including an interview with one of the workers.

Visit Carole Reckinger’s website to see more photographs of the migrants’ summer days in Rosarno.

This first field trip to Rosarno was financially supported by the Luxembourg Ministère de la Culture, helping to kick-start the project. In order to carry out an in-depth research and follow individual people over a longer period of time, Carole, Diana and Gilles are returning to Rosarno at least twice a year:

“Journalists usually only report about the living conditions in Rosarno during the busy winter months. However, we would like to contribute to extend existing knowledge with testimonials of people, but especially with a long-term observation of the conditions for individual people. The long, hot, summer months, when no work is available to the migrants, are of particular interest to us.

We are working on an exhibition as well as a manuscript for a non-fictional book including photographs, testimonials and personal observations in both German and English.

We are currently looking for partnerships, collaborations and financial support in order to continue this project. If you would like to support us, or would like to have more information, please contact us @ bitter_oranges at yahoo dot com.”

A crowd-funding campaign will soon be launched. Stay tuned.

Detail from "Welcome to Europe!", by Carole Reckinger & Gilles Reckinger, Issue 1

Detail from “Welcome to Europe!”, by Carole Reckinger & Gilles Reckinger, Issue 1


About Antoine Cassar

Poet, translator, editor, activist, map freak
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