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. Research findings and the visual assets were presented online as culmination of the project.
The project contributes to larger public debates around immigration and Brexit.
The October Anthropologist is a global anthropological consultancy that specializes in conducting anthropological research for a wide variety of purposes: from public art and education to innovation and design. Nazima Kadir, the principal, is an anthropologist with a PhD from Yale who has over 20 years of experience conducting anthropological research and translating the findings interactively with stakeholders. Her book, "The Autonomous Life," published by Manchester University Press, was based on 3.5 years of living and working in a squatters' community in Amsterdam and shortlisted for the BBC Ethnography award. It was featured on Radio 4 and Wired magazine.
Åbäke is a collective established in London in 2000. Much of their work concentrates on the social aspect of design and the strength that collaboration can bring to a project.
Supported by the 2020 Culture Fund.
Baristas Under Brexit: Research Finding Presentation
On Sat 3 October 2020, the October Anthropologist presented Baristas Under Brexit, an exhibition of anthropological research communicated through visual art and music.
The October Anthropologist team conducted research into the lives of Southern and Eastern Europeans baristas in London. They examined their invisible contributions and how their educational and cultural backgrounds are essential to the carefully crafted café culture in London.
From interviews uncovering their lives and labour histories, the findings reveal multiple layers of the immigrant experience in London today. This includes discriminatory barriers that prevent Southern and Eastern European baristas from using their education and occupational skills in London’s labour market.
In this film, the team uniquely communicate the research through art and music. As well as showcase a series of visual assets inspired by the lexicon of specialist cafes created by Abäke, a transdisciplinary graphic design collective. The Migranti, London-based European musicians, perform songs from the 1920s in their original languages that capture the emotional essence of the baristas' stories.
Image courtesy The October Anthropologist and Åbäke, photographs courtesy Hydar Dewachi.