Logistics and crisis: The supply chain system in the Po valley region


Eventually, we would like to propose few new research lines, arisen from our research work.

First of all, it would be really interesting to deepen the historical field as well as the historical relations between the different forms of logistics and the composition of workers. Starting from Anna Tsing portrait of the situation (written above), we propose to study and understand the important work of Stefano Harney (“The Undercommons” – Harney&Moten, 2013 – and other works), who ties tightly slavery and logistics as a fundamental sign to understand the history of the modern capitalistic system. In other words, we believe it would be extremely interesting to go deeper into the hypothesis which sees logistics as the litmus paper of the modern capitalism system because «logistics is everywhere», and even «business innovation has become logistical and no longer strategic» (Harney&Moten, 2013, p. 88).

The high concentration of migrant labor force in the logistics can be an another interesting point for further  research. Is this a peculiarity of the Po Valley or is it a more common fact? Is, in some way, the use of delocalized labour force related to the delocalization of the production’s processes. What does it mean for the organization of labor in general and especially for the struggles at the global level the fact that having a workforce that organizes itself despite being exploited ? Another interesting point concerns to the connections between migrants and how the movement has been expanded so quickly. What kind of networks had permitted this expansion? Those struggles are creating a self-consciousness of those workers subjectivity not related at  relatives or community? Moreover could be interesting to investigate the role that hubs and warehouses, conceived as ongoing harbors, are having in performing the labor-force.

Another point of questioning, that we would like to investigate further, is the possible duration of this kind of phenomenon. Put it differently, are the struggles in the Po Valley logistics branch a temporary episode or are we going to face a long-period vindication? The answer is probably bound to some aspects of the supply chain capitalism. We have highlighted the fundamental role that delivery plays in our present: this makes us think that we are not talking about something of incidental. Moreover we have illustrated how the Po Valley logistics sector is largely based on a hard exploitation of the labour-force. Considering these elements, could we hypothesize that a transition to a greater use of constant capital should reduce the antagonism and the level of exploitation in this branch? Or is the use of a highly-exploited labour-force a necessary component for its functioning? Why the Italian logistics has focused on savings on labour-force and not on the technological development? Which effects could have the introduction of a greater constant capital?

To conclude: we are confronting to what geographers call “a problem of scale”. In this paper we have developed an analysis that has a lot of global characteristics: the territorialization of global flows commodities; the presence of multinational corporation; a complex heterogeneity of migrant labour composition; some intersections between financial processes and the transformation of the urban scenario and so forth. But at the same time has emerged that there are also many peculiarities of the local level: a specific labor organization methodology (what we call “the system of cooperatives”); a particular rank and files unionism; the historical city landscape and the local territorial morphology etc. So we are wondering if logistics process of struggles can be thought as a generalizable example or not. In other words: we intend to keep on researching to verify the hypothesis that crisis is producing deep changes in supply chain capitalism starting from a new workers subjectivation.

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