Tag Archives: labor

Mahmudul H Sumon: An anonymous visit to a garment factory in Bangladesh

After the Tazreen Fashions factory fire (2012) and the Rana Plaza collapse (2013), which killed 119 and 1,136 workers, respectively, the garment sector of Bangladesh has seen the coming of two new regimes of regulatory bodies, namely, “the Accord” (Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh) and “the Alliance” (Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety). Both bodies are said to be legally binding agreements between global brands/retailers and trade unions designed to build a safe and healthy ready-made garment industry in Bangladesh. Some transnational activists regard these developments as great achievements. In fact, an attempt to have a legally binding document that would hold brands and retailers responsible for their shoddy practices in the global supply chain has been a long-standing demand by some international trade unions, the Clean Clothes Campaign, and other global campaign groups for workers’ rights. The Tazreen factory fire and the Rana Plaza collapse expedited the process.

Continue reading

Nithya Natarajan: Behind the Indian Boom

“Behind the Indian Boom: Inequality and Resistance at the heart of economic growth” is an exhibition curated by Simon Chambers and Alpa Shah.[i] The exhibition draws on research undertaken across India as part of an ESRC- and ERC-funded Programme of Research on Inequality and Poverty based in the Department of Anthropology at LSE led by Alpa Shah and Jens Lerche.[ii] The exhibition also includes contributions from a number of scholars, journalists, and activists.

Continue reading

Polina Manolova: Brexit and the production of “illegal” EU migrants

Bulgarians on their way to the “West”

EU immigration was the primary source of contention in the debates surrounding the recent referendum about the United Kingdom’s EU membership. The “leave” campaign continuously bombarded the public with warnings about “uncontrollable hordes” of EU benefit seekers (for a discussion on the construction of migrant categories, see Apostolova 2016) planning to permanently settle for the “easy” life in the UK and take away the jobs of the locals. Likewise, the “remain” campaign promised to crack down on the number of immigrants and further restrict the rights of newcomers. In this way, both camps reinforced the perception that immigration from the EU, and in particular from eastern Europe, is a problem. Furthermore, in their effort to make the case for a “remain” scenario, academic voices tirelessly demonstrated the economic, cultural, and demographic benefits of EU migration. Such efforts, however well intended, still feed into an instrumentalist policy perspective that constructs migrants’ lives as only important in terms of their added value for the local economy.
Continue reading

Sharryn Kasmir: Mondragón coops and the anthropological imagination

In 2013, Fagor Electrodomésticos, the home appliance division of the world-renowned Mondragón cooperative group, declared bankruptcy. The announcement disheartened coop advocates who consider Mondragón the most successful worker-owned enterprise in the world.
Continue reading

Jayson Beaster-Jones: Music, labor, and value in Indian music stores

The Indian music industry of the early 2000s was extremely volatile, as the overproduction of new recordings and ready availability of pirated material led to a decline in overall sales and waning profitability for the physical circulation of recorded music. Indian music retailers had to navigate a complex social and business environment in which their customers could shop for music in a bewildering array of successful retail outlets, ranging from street hawkers to family-owned shops to large, organized chain stores, to mobile phone providers.
Continue reading

August Carbonella & Sharryn Kasmir: Blood and Fire: Toward a Global Anthropology of Labor

Blood and Fire is a volume of the “Dislocations” series published by Berghahn Books. The immense dislocations and suffering caused by neo-liberal globalization, the retreat of the welfare state in the last decades of the twentieth century, and the heightened military imperialism at the turn of the twenty-first century have raised urgent questions about the temporal and spatial dimensions of power. Through stimulating critical perspectives and new and cross-disciplinary frameworks, which reflect recent innovations in the social and human sciences, this series provides a forum for politically engaged, ethnographically informed, and theoretically incisive responses.
Continue reading

August Carbonella: Dispossession and Emancipation: Reframing Our Political Imagination

Everywhere we look, it seems, we are faced with the human and environmental devastation caused by contemporary processes of dispossession. How we are to confront this is the urgent political question of the day. Not surprisingly, this question has reinvigorated scholarly interest in dispossession, much of it inspired by the work of David Harvey (2003) on accumulation by dispossession and Peter Linebaugh (2008) on an expanded understanding of what constitutes the commons. These conceptual interventions are clearly both welcome and important, yet their explications of dispossession and commons, in the end, do not adequately address the political question. In brief, Harvey’s assignment of different political logics to the dispossessed in the Global North and South and Linebaugh’s evocative juxtapositions of different various commoning practices do not enable us to bring these struggles into a common relational frame. I suggest that a more sustained focus on uneven proletarianization—the end result of dispossession—will better serve our goal of understanding present protests and political possibilities.
Continue reading