Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Institut für Europäische Ethnologie

Abstract Marika Perdicca

Integration Regimes at Work. An Ethnography of Migrant Self-Employment Practices in Northern Italy

Considering neoliberal developments in the field of migrant self-employed labor trough an ethnographic lens, my project aims at problematizing the political concept of integration. Problematizing ›integration‹ means to render this concept a crucial object of research and to explore it in its situated political and social meanings, thus overcoming a simplifying duality of inclusion versus exclusion. Utilizing the term ›regime‹ as it has been developed in the field of critical migration and border regime studies, I examine an ›integration regimeas an assemblage of political and socio-cultural processes of neoliberal subjectivation and differentiation.


Specifically, my anthropological research a) draws and expands on approaches that link critiques of capitalism with questions of affective labor in the field of migrant self-employment, b) deepens the consideration of the ›integration regime‹ as a laboratory for neo-liberal subject formations, and c) elaborates on the specific forms of differential inclusion and labor exploitation that occur when neoliberal labor policies merge with public discourses on migrant labor and integration.


The first part of my study reconstructs the emergence of a specific (EU-)Italian integration discourse on the backdrop of migrant labor policies and neoliberal state formations. The second part of my dissertation draws on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in northern Italy among self-employed Romanian migrants mainly active in the construction sector.
My analysis reflects on the labor market conditions and decision-making processes that go into becoming self-employed as well as on enterpreneurial experiences and narratives.
The research focuses on
migrant subjectivity vis-à-vis a neoliberal ›integration imperative‹ and shifting labor regulations, including everyday discrimination, structural racism, and more subtle forms of differential inclusion. At the same time, my work highlights specific forms of resilience that the actors set in motion in the face of these conditions