Author:Astrid Lovelady (University of St Andrews)
Paper short abstract:
This paper explores how Romanian migrants in Danish agriculture cope with the feeling of not being recognised as equal human beings, when they are poorly treated. They create a shared sense of suffering with other Romanian migrants and in this way gain recognition through their ethnic belonging.
Paper long abstract:
This paper explores how Romanian migrants working in Danish agricultural desire and gain recognition as human beings. Every year many Romanian people travel to Denmark to work in agriculture, due to corruption and the risk of poverty in Romania. In Denmark, many of the migrants experience labour exploitation and feel that they are treated poorly - with low salaries, substandard living conditions, lack of security and lack of possibilities to find other employment - because they are Romanian. As such, they do not feel recognised as equal human beings when working in Denmark.
Through a focus on lack of recognition (Lacan 1966), I explore how my Romanian interlocutors create a sense of shared suffering, and how they try to cope with this lack of recognition in their everyday lives. The Romanian expression haz de necaz refers to ways of dealing with frustrating and distressful situations by making fun of the situations and creating enjoyable moments. My Romanian interlocutors nicknamed the farmers (e.g. 'boyar' and 'Santa Claus'), made fun of pig insemination practices, and socialised frequently in their spare time. This relieved them from everyday life at the farms and provided them with recognition as human beings, instead of being "migrant farm labourers". This means that they feel recognised as human beings through their ethnic belonging.
The research is based on 15 months of ethnographic fieldwork amongst Romanian farm labourers in the Danish countryside. I spoke (in the Romanian language), worked and socialised with the migrants and travelled to Romania.
Beyond precarity: the politics of hope, care, and solidarity under conditions of unsettling (im)mobility [Anthropology of Labour Network]