Text and photos Merissa Gavin
Re-negotiating precarity: Migrant fruit pickers in southern Spain
For my ongoing thesis research, I am interested in how migrant workers in Spain’s agri-food industry navigate politically induced precarity. Precarity, within the scope of this research, refers to the instability of immigrants’ status in society as they embody the paradox of being essential for the economy yet ostracised from socio-political life and unprotected by the state. To deepen my understanding of this phenomenon, I have come to Huelva, Andalusia, in the south of Spain to meet the people harvesting the fruit supply of Europe, from oranges and lemons, to strawberries and blueberries. An industry kept afloat by the work of undocumented migrants, the seasonal fruit harvest attracts thousands of migrant workers to rural Andalusia every year, with parts of the region largely populated by migrants of African descent living in makeshift roadside settlements, las chabolas. My research focuses on the lived experience of these workers as they struggle for the conditions of a dignified life.