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 will be 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's founder Nazima Kadir presented findings from interviews with highly educated European immigrants working as baristas in the cafes of London, illustrated by artifacts created by Åbäke, a graphic design collective.
Along with the research and visual art, they performed music inspired by the baristas' stories. The musicians, also Europeans in London, walked through their own stories of navigating their legal statuses in light of an impending Brexit.
Image courtesy The October Anthropologist and Åbäke, photographs courtesy Hydar Dewachi.