Baristas Under Brexit, selected for and funded by Brent 2020, London Borough of Culture
The October Anthropologist team has conducted research into the lives of Southern and Eastern European immigrants who work as baristas in London cafes. The project examines their invisible contributions and how their educational and cultural backgrounds are essential to the carefully crafted café culture in London.
Through interviews uncovering stories about their lives and labour histories, the project seeks to reveal multiple layers of what it means to be an immigrant in London today. This includes discriminatory barriers that prevent Southern and Eastern European baristas from using their education and employment skills in London’s labour market.
Working with Abäke, a transdisciplinary graphic design collective, our team have analyzed and translated the research findings into a series of visual assets using the lexicon of specialist London cafes. We will present the research findings and the visual assets at Two Doors Down in Willesden Green in the autumn as an accumulation of the project.
Moreover, this project examines a migration dynamic within Europe, from South/East to North/West, and within London, from poor boroughs to wealthy boroughs. In this case, Southern/Eastern European settle in Brent, due to its infrastructure of affordable housing and cultural networks. Brent ‘supplies’ the wealthier parts of London with immigrants to work in low paid sectors with labor shortages. However, the current dynamic is not documented or analyzed. Without understanding the present, it’s impossible to predict Brexit’s impact on Brent and the rest of London. Will this pipeline of highly skilled, highly educated labor, from Europe to Brent to the rest of London, continue to exist? How will this creatively and culturally impact Brent and the rest of London?
Visual Artifacts: The October Anthropologist/Åbäke Photographs © Hydar Dewachi
- Photo Credit: Abäke/The October Anthropologist