Topography of Hospitality

Rocco Rorandelli

2018 - 2019

In recent years I developed a profound interest in understanding the spatial conformation of emergency and labour camps that have developed across Europe. The topography of these places, either devoted to cope with emergency or as semi-permanent structures, reflects the hypocrisies in dealing with the migratory phenomenon. The arrival of migrants is seen as a burden from governments and the public opinion, while at the same time their working force is essential in today’s market, seeking cheap labour with low rights.

I have photographed camps in Greece, Bosnia Herzegovina and several locations in Italy. I have visited official camps built by governments and informal settlements. A common trait of these camps is their peripheral localisation, together with their spatial conformation, an indication of the extent of governmental intervention. Camps are built as ghettos. isolated, with no attempt to favor social exchange and integration with the local community. This is true also for those official camps, built in agricultural regions of Southern Europe, to give shelter for migrants working locally, often exploited.

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  • MIljkovici, Bosnia and Herzegovina. 20 August 2018. Tents from an informal migrant camp on the border with Croatia. Migrants who move here try to cross into Croatia - and Europe. Various accounts report of tens of attempts, and violent encounters with Croatian police.

  • Manfredonia, Italy. 30 July 2019. A view of the Borgo Mezzanone informal ghetto, adjacent to the official reception centre for asylum seekers. The camp is inhabited by about 1500 migrant laborers mainly involved in agricultural work. Migrants are trapped in a system of illegal exploitative labor. In Southern Italy, NGOs describe migrants' conditions as a modern form of slavery.

  • San Ferdinando, Italy. 5 April 2018. The largest immigrant informal camp of Southern Italy, located 5 km form the town of Rosarno, hosts about 2000 migrant laborers. Partially demolished in spring 2019. the camp migrated a few hundred meters away. Workers, mostly from Africa, are employed in citrus picking, often informally. Every year fires caused by gas or electric stove claim the lives of some people.

  • San Ferdinando, Italy, 6 April 2018. An official camp built by the Ministry of Internal Affairs to host 100 laborers but never finished, lacking sanitation and cooking area. Every year, fires destroy part of the camp, and new barracks are built. In 2018 alone, two people have died due to accidental fires. Every year, thousands of migrants gather in Calabria, Basilicata, Campania, Puglia, in order to work as laborers. Exploited and underpaid, their jobs are often controlled by the mafia and people are stuck in debt traps from which it is hard to exit. In Calabria, 3,500 migrant laborers gather every year to pick oranges, kiwi and tangerines. According to the Italian NGO MEDU, about 70% of them work without a formal contract.

  • Velika Kladuša. Bosnia and Herzegovina. 20 August 2018. The empty tents of the IOM camp built in the industrial area of the town, a few kilometers from the Croatian border. Constructed with EU funds, the camps has been heavily criticized by the Croatian government for being built too close to the border area, thus giving shelter to migrants who wanted to cross into Croatia. Several NGO denounce the use of violence by the border police.

  • San Severo, Italy, 29 July 2019. The last containers are being installed in the new migrant labour camp of Casa Sankara, close to the city of Foggia. The camp has air conditioned containers and can host up to 400 people, however it has been criticized as it reinforces the idea of a ghetto.

  • Testa dell’Acqua, Italy. 5 April 2018. The former governmental shelter for migrant labourers is now unofficially occupied by about 130 people. There is no running water, electricity or waste collection.

  • Moria, Greece. 5 November 2018. Tents in the unofficial migrant camp outside the governmental one. Located on the island of Lesbos, the refugee camp was built to host 3000 people, and is now giving shelter to about 13000 migrants, including 1000 minors. Migrants keep arriving. In September 2019, 12,500 people arrived in Greece, and 40% of these came to Lesbos.

  • Rosarno, Italy. 5 April 2018. The official tent camp for migrant laborers hosts about 800 people. There are bathrooms, running water and electricity, However the location, very isolated, has been criticized for secluding migrants thus now favouring integration with the locals.