EASA2022: Transformation, Hope and the Commons | 26 July 2022

Participation at EASA conference with the Panel 148b Transformed landscapes, uprooted commons, cultivated hopes: plantation legacies and future possibles in contemporary food systems

Convenors: Cristiana Bastos (Universidade de Lisboa) and Seth M. Holmes (University of Southern California)
Discussant: Deborah Heath (Lewis Clark College)
Sessions: Tuesday 26 July, 14:15-16:00

Short Abstract:

Addressing food systems, we emphasize the role of ethnography in current discussions about the plantationocene, the legacy of plantations, the current circuits of migrant labor and capital-intensive monocrops, and potential future relationships between humans, non-humans, bodies and environment

Long Abstract:

In this panel, we welcome papers that address contemporary food-production systems, their human and non-human actors and the co-production of plants and people. We aim to address social, political, economic, historical, cultural and botanical aspects of food systems, including the role of ethnography in current discussions on the plantationocene and the legacy of plantations, current circuits of migrant labor and capital-intensive monocrops, and the relationships between humans and non-humans, bodies and environments. Papers may analyze and theorize the racialization of labor-people-plants, the embedded and embodied structures of social inequality, the transformed landscapes of the capitalocene, and the uprooted commons of the plantationocene. We also aim to highlight the hopeful endeavors of reparation through sustainable food production and contemporary forms of land distribution from communal land projects to alternative relationships with land, food and agricultural production.

Paper presented

Of residence cards, raspberries and other thorny brambles: the travels and labors of Asian migrants in contemporary Iberian plantationscapes.

Cristiana Bastos (ICS, Universidade de Lisboa), Kishor Subba Limbu (ICS, Universidade de Lisboa), Catarina Barata (ICS, Universidade de Lisboa)

Sandy SW Portugal became a plantationscape of plastic-walled greenhouses that produce berries for Northern Europe, largely supported on the massive input of Asian migrant workers. In this paper, we will address the new plantations through the angle of labor migration in this ethnographic setting.

Paper long abstract: In the historically neglected region of Odemira, Alentejo, SW Portugal, a combination of political, financial and environmental factors propitiated a radical transformation of the sandy and rocky landscape into a quasi-continuum of greenhouses where berries and other fruits and vegetables are produced for international markets under the sponsorship of international corporations, at the expense of local water and weather, and with a massive input of imported labor. In this contemporary plantationscape, labor is imported mostly from Asia through a number of migratory channels. What used to be a region of abandonment and demographic decline is now the temporary home for a variety of groups, from eastern Europe, Africa, and above all South Asia. Based on the current immersive research of Kishor Limbu with fellow Nepalese workers, we will analyze the ways in which Nepalese migrants in and out of the berry greenhouses negotiate their itineraries, legal status, and expectations of social mobility in the European Union, while also outlining the changes, tensions, COVID-related crises and political management of a new social and ethnic population in the Alentejo.