Ben Rogaly

‘Migration’, racisms, and the creative resistance of food sector employees

There is a contradiction in UK political economy between a restrictive, often hostile, language regarding migration, and sectors that have historically recruited large numbers of migrant workers. This lecture will dismantle the idea of ‘migration’, showing that its apparently common sense use in popular and political discourse perpetuates divisions between people, and can thus be used to impede united action for better quality jobs and working conditions. Using a place-based study of a small English city with a long history of receiving new work-seeking residents, the lecture also draws on ‘migrant’ and ‘local’ workers’ life history narratives to explore histories of both racisms and cross-nationality, cross-ethnic solidarities and creative resistance at work. The focus is on employment in the industrialised food chain, including production, processing, packing, distribution and food service.

Ben Rogaly is Professor of Human Geography and former Head of Department of Geography at the University of Sussex, UK. He has a long-standing research interest in migration in England and India and is co-author (with historian Becky Taylor) of Moving Histories of Class and Community: Identity, Place and Belonging in Contemporary England (Palgrave, 2011). From 2011 to 2013 Ben held an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Fellowship entitled Places for All? A Multi-Media Investigation of Citizenship, Work and Belonging in a Fast-Changing Provincial City. Articles from this research have been published in numerous outlets including Society and Space; Geoforum; Sociological Review; and Identities. Ben is currently co-investigator on the AHRC-funded research project ‘Creative interruptions: grassroots creativity, State structures, and disconnection as a space for “radical openness”’, and in 2016-17 is working on a new book as Writer-in-Residence at Metal (Peterborough).