Who built Thebes of the seven gates?

Jeanne Gillard, Emilie Gleason, Nicolas Rivet

“Who built Thebes of the seven gates?” Bertolt Brecht asks in his poem Questions from a Worker Who Reads, conjuring up the absence of certain key players in the historical narrative. From constructing suburbs and major infrastructure projects, to raising the imposing edifices of the international organizations in the city, guest workers, along with their colleagues facing less economic insecurity, often immigrants, occasionally Swiss nationals, have played a major part in building Geneva.

Their contribution, however, isn’t limited to this emblematic sector. Guest workers have also had an unmistakable presence in agriculture and the hotel and restaurant industry. By drawing a map of Geneva that highlights the buildings and the underground legacy of these guest workers’ hard work, Émilie Gleason, Jeanne Gillard, and Nicolas Rivet point up a counter-history of the city forged by the women and men who have done so much to foster its substantial growth and whose contribution remains still largely hidden in this day and age.