This essay explores the author's engaged research trajectory into several agro-industrial enclaves in contemporary Italy. Stemming from solidarity work in support of migrant laborers living in slums and camps, and of their demands for legal recognition and better living and work conditions, the essay shows how the interrogation of these spaces’ multiple, layered pasts helps to better understand and contrast forms of containment, extraction, and racialized and gendered violence in the present. In particular, the essay pits narratives that portray such agro-industrial enclaves and the people that inhabit them as anachronistic residues against deep genealogies of racial capitalism and of the rhetorical tropes that sustained them. Carceral-like containment and, more generally, spatial segregation are shown to run through and thus be foundational in the history of capitalist agriculture, across geographies that link Italy to global flows.

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