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Working for the large-scale farm. French Southwestern strawberry and melon farms challenged by foreign labour

Abstract : Foreign agricultural seasonal workers, these "forgotten men of rural studies" (Hubscher and Farcy, 1996), are traditionally presented as "birds of passage" (Piore, 1979). On the contrary, we propose to consider the processes of anchoring by agricultural activities. How are the spaces of the large-scale farm, and beyond, the rural areas, transformed by hosting this working force? This proposal is based on field surveys conducted between 2018 and 2019 in two farm-intensive supply chains in the French Southwestern countryside: the melon sector around Loudun (Vienne district), and the strawberry sector in Pays Vernois (Dordogne district). Both rely on the massive use of seasonal foreign labour: Portuguese workers in strawberry production, Southern Europeans, West Africans, Bulgarians and Poles in melon production. Our results show that the large-scale farm can become an anchor point in agricultural activity, and more widely in rural areas. This process results in three dynamics: (1) Foreign workers bring changes both in the organization of work, and in technical and cultural orientations on the large-scale farm; (2) The large-scale farm can become a place where to live for the foreign seasonal workers. Residential and agricultural spaces are closely intertwined, with a wide range of housing solutions. (3) The setting-up of formerly seasonal foreigners as farmers is the ultimate stage of anchoring, especially in Dordogne. Thus, this process changes the structures of farmlands.
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Contributor : Camille Hochedez <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, April 7, 2020 - 11:15:30 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, December 8, 2020 - 9:52:22 AM


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  • HAL Id : halshs-02534722, version 1



Camille Hochedez, Sophie Clair-Caliot. Working for the large-scale farm. French Southwestern strawberry and melon farms challenged by foreign labour. Rural History 2019 - European Rural History Organization International Conference, Sep 2019, Paris, France. ⟨halshs-02534722⟩



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