About us

Gloria Carlini

Gloria CarliniGloria Carlini obtained her master in Socio-Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology at the University of Bologna in 2008, with a thesis on sex work, sexuality and femininity among the youth of Kampala marginal neighborhoods. She is currently a PhD candidate in cultural and social anthropology at the University of Milano-Bicocca. Since March 2014, she has collaborated with the SWAB research team. Her main interests include human bondage, labour exploitation and unfree labour.





Research Project: “Are they ‘slaves’? Invisible Migrant Workers and Labour Exploitation in the Italian Agricultural Sector.”

The project explores the working and living conditions of western Sub-Saharan migrant communities (mainly Ghanaians and Burkinabe) that are employed on a daily basis in the agricultural sector of Northern and Southern Italy. Up to the 1970s, Italians were hired as day-labourers (braccianti) to pick up fruits and vegetables or to crop the field for a landowner. Most of them came from families with a long history of peasantry. Since the mid-1970s, the agricultural landscape has started to change: migrant workers almost completely replaced Italians. Some migrants had regular contracts. Several were undocumented and at risk of severe exploitation. In the last decade, their working conditions have captured the attention of media, trade unions, human rights activists and academics. In different ways, each of these actors has used the notion of slavery to mobilize civil society and denounce exploitative working conditions. At the same time, these discourses underline the agency of migrants against the recruitment system headed by ‘caporali’, i.e. middlemen who organize and manage migrants’ labour force through the use of psychological and physical violence. My project places the working conditions of braccianti at the core of contemporary debates on slavery and human bondage. Through the collection of life histories and work biographies, I address issues of slavery and unfreedom by giving voice to the western African labourers I have met in the fields.