by Pai, Hsiao-Hung / Geography and migration
Published Jan 2021 by Hurst in the UK
Hardback / 336 pages
In 2013 Ousmane Diallo, a 26-year-old Senegalese olive harvester, lost his life when a gas canister exploded in a Sicilian field. As an African migrant, he was little mourned. But though they’ve been deliberately forgotten, neither the events of Ousmane’s life nor his tragic death are uncommon.
Across Italy today, African workers toil in the fields that make it one of Europe’s largest exporters of fruit and vegetables. Having fled home countries devastated by colonialism and global capitalism, those who survive the journey across the Mediterranean arrive on European shores only to find themselves systematically segregated and exploited. They have been subject to anti-migrant policies over decades, from administrations across the political spectrum.
Trapped in a chokehold of subhuman living and working conditions, they are the dehumanised Other, invisible by design–the people hidden behind foods and goods branded ‘Made in Italy’. Ciao Ousmane is the story of this subordinated class. Through the lives and stories of Italy’s migrant workers, Hsiao-Hung Pai exposes the open secret of how state and society create ‘necessary outcasts’.
This is a bitter, frank and moving tale of racial capitalism, against which workers constantly find new ways to organise and fight back.