Feeding the cities and beyond: contemporary agrarian questions and rural-urban counteraction. An overview of the Italian case

Francesca Uleri,
University of Bolzano, Italy

Today, more than ever, the agrarian ground, is appearing not crystallized or isolated but highly interconnected with the “growing cities” which ask for an increasing quantity and variety of agro(food and non-food) commodities. Taking into consideration the rising demand for agro-commodities, this proposal aims to highlight how the adaptation of the agro-production complexes to the global economies of scale has reshaped their internal organization, here mostly intended in terms of agricultural labor organization. Accordingly, it offers an overview of a contemporary agrarian question affecting thousands of rural laborers working in the Italian agro-industial sector, la questione dei braccianti, the question of the hand fields and of their illegal labor-recruitment and exploitation as a way to reduce production costs and face a global squeeze in agriculture. Drawing on this, the paper defines a trajectory of counteraction based on a rural-urban alliance. The counteraction is intended here not as a set of mobilizations that take to the street but as mobilizations that move firstly at the institutional level and then at the market level through a mediated social re-definition/re-construction of the market-circuits.