Wednesday, 28 March 2012

A Seventh Man

A Seventh Man
New edition of this seminal exploration of migrant workers.

Why does the Western world look to migrant laborers to perform the most menial tasks? What compels people to leave their homes and accept this humiliating situation? In A Seventh Man, John Berger and Jean Mohr come to grips with what it is to be a migrant worker—the material circumstances and the inner experience—and, in doing so, reveal how the migrant is not so much on the margins of modern life, but absolutely central to it. First published in 1975, this finely wrought exploration remains as urgent as ever, presenting a mode of living that pervades the countries of the West and yet is excluded from much of its culture.

There is an extract from A Seventh Man, first published in Race & Class in 1975, online here.

A Seventh Man: Migrant Workers in Europe by John Berger and Jean Mohr – review
By Aimee Shalan, The Guardian

"It can happen," John Berger suggests, "that a book, unlike its authors, grows younger as the years pass", and this could be the case with A Seventh Man. First published in 1975, it is now clearly outdated in terms of its statistics and the changes that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union. But western Europe's continued dependence on millions of migrant workers during the worst economic crisis since the second world war shows that the economic system can no longer exist without their labour. This impassioned portrait of migrant life is therefore more relevant than ever as an incisive response to eruptions of anti-immigration rhetoric. Originally envisaged as a film-documentary-cum-family-album, the book is arranged into three chapters depicting departure, work and return. Its powerful mix of facts, figures, poetry, abstract theory and photographs opens up the dehumanising experience of migration to reveal a stultifying lack of freedom at the heart of neo-liberal capitalism, which Berger bluntly recoins "economic fascism".