‘That’s where my perception of it all was shattered’: oral histories and moral geographies of food sector workers in an English city region

Rogaly, Ben and Qureshi, Kaveri (2017) ‘That’s where my perception of it all was shattered’: oral histories and moral geographies of food sector workers in an English city region. Geoforum, 78. pp. 189-198. ISSN 0016-7185

[img] PDF - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (377kB)


Geographers and oral historians continue to have much to learn from each other. The subfield of labour geography in particular can enrich its understanding of workers’ lived experiences, both in employment and beyond the workplace, through greater use of interpretative, collaborative oral history methodologies. Attentive to the temporal specificity and inter-subjectivity of people’s narratives, oral history reveals how workers’ moral geographies emerge and change. This article documents the spatio-temporalities and institutions of food sector employment in Peterborough, England, a city-region from which urban-based workers are bussed out daily to rural jobs. The analysis draws on four extended case studies of people who migrated to the UK and worked in the sector in the 2000s, building on recent research that has highlighted harsh employment conditions in the food production, packing and processing sector. It complements this work by viewing narrative itself as an agentic act and listening to how research participants crafted their life stories. These stories revealed diverse, complex and context-specific moral geographies, with participants variously placing value on small acts of rebellion or refusal, dignity and the time to speak with others at work. The article advocates greater engagement by labour geographers with the subjective experiences of workers, and with individual as well as collective agency.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: oral history; moral geographies; Peterborough; Eastern England; food sector; migrant workers
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Geography
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races > HT0401 Rural groups. Rural sociology
Depositing User: Ben Rogaly
Date Deposited: 18 Mar 2016 10:16
Last Modified: 20 Mar 2017 16:29
URI: http://srodev.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/60082

View download statistics for this item

📧 Request an update
Project NameSussex Project NumberFunderFunder Ref
Places for all? A multi-media investigation of citizenship, work and belonging in a fast-changing provincial cityG0355AHRC-ARTS & HUMANITIES RESEARCH COUNCILAH/J501669/1