Archive | Uncategorized RSS feed for this section

Borders, Refugees, Solidarity, Resistance

28 Oct

hostile-environment_0

Thu, November 21, 2019, 5:00 PM – 6:30 PM

Murray Learning Centre, LG21, University of Birmingham

Migrants and refugees are increasingly victimised by a political class desperate to find scapegoats. The violent nature of the current border system encroaches ever further into people’s lives. Even educational institutions are required to operate as an arm of the Home Office and facilitate Hostile Environment policies.

Instead of being treated as valuable members of our community, migrants and refugees are subject to surveillance and monitoring by schools, universities, local authorities and the Home Office. Refugees fleeing violence, danger and poverty face an asylum process that is lengthy, unfit for purpose and which systematically leaves people in dangerous conditions. Detention centres, mostly located in remote areas, are routinely used to imprison people without any judicial process. And the Conservative Government, with their pursuit of Brexit and anti-migrant narratives, continues to make matters worse, exposing ever more individuals to border violence.

In relation to the university setting, international students and staff are routinely held to different standards, with their visas placing them in positions of dependence, upon either their employers or upon regular attendance in classes.

This workshop aims to bridge the gap between academia and activism in relation to these questions of borders, refugees, solidarity, and resistance. It brings together researchers, practitioners and activists around a shared goal of both highlighting, and resisting, the damaging effect of Britain’s ever-worsening border regime.

Itinerary

5.00 Introduction and welcome

5.05 Speakers

Tendayi Bloom, University of Birmingham

Why can some people move freely, while others’ movement is controlled? Thoughts about the global governance of migration

Gaja Maestri, Aston University

Exploring refugee solidarity: motivations, meanings and tensions

Yajur Arora and Hanna Ellis, Docs not Cops, University of Birmingham Medical School

The challenges of accessing healthcare for “Illegal” and vulnerable migrants

Sanaz Raji, Unis Resist Border Controls

The impact of the border regime in Universities and initiatives to resist border controls

5.35 Workshop discussion highlighting solidarity initiatives we can focus on in Birmingham

6.10 Closing discussion, feedback and ideas for future activities

6.30 END

Hosted by CSE/Capital and Class Midlands

Decolonising Green Marxism: capitalism, decolonialism and radical environmental politics

30 Sep

Tuesday 22 October

12.00 – 2.00

University of Birmingham (Muirhead 429)

Is capitalism harming nature? Current debates, and especially the engagement between John Bellamy Foster and Jason W. Moore, have highlighted difficulties associated with this question. If capitalism is harming nature, then is it also part of nature? Capitalism is made of human relations. Are some humans part of capitalism, and ‘others’ part of nature and victims of capitalist expansion? This seminar seeks to wrestle with the difficult questions that this raises, in an attempt to consider the relationship between capitalism, nature, and those who are at risk of being obscured from view in Marxist and anti-capitalist analysis – indigenous populations, the post-colonial world, and/or the ‘periphery’. It presents initial contributions to a forthcoming forum that will be published in 2020, both in Capital and Class (in English) and Eutopía (in Spanish).

 

Speakers:

José Pablo Prado Córdova (University of San Carlos of Guatemala)

Overcoming the metabolic rift: A human-based conservation paradigm in Guatemala

Nature conservation practices in the Global South are fraught with uncertainty due to fragile environmental governance and conflict stemming from their subaltern position in global capitalism. This paper explores conservation discourse in Guatemala, in light of ethnoecological theory and David Harvey’s moments for the transition towards a post-Capitalist society. This is located in an environmental regime characterized by its verticality, lack of scientific substantiation, and proclivity to privilege exchange value at the expense of widening the metabolic rift. This regime spawns several ecological rifts: (i) between conventional scientific parlance and traditional ecological knowledge; (ii) between utility-inspired natural resource management and local land husbandry practices; and (iii) between nature as a reservoir of resources and nature as the sustenance for life. The paper goes on to explore ways in which dissident groups are paving the way for a grassroots-oriented conservation science, with the potential to bridge the metabolic rift.

 

Yuliya Yurchenko (University of Greenwich)

Humans, nature, and dialectical materialism

Capitalist relations are the crucial object of social critique due to their innate tendency to accelerate the metabolic rift and alienation. Yet, I argue, our focus should stretch beyond capitalist relations. Indeed, both ecocidal and conservationist tendencies have occurred in multiple historical forms of social relations, including socialist societies such as the USSR. These are phenomena that reiterate the social, rather than purely capitalist, relations as the driver of environmental destruction. Metabolic rifts occur due to the malfunctioning of human-human/human-nature relationships, and it is the elimination and prevention of that malfunctioning that must be the aim of radical environmental politics and policies for the future – not merely (the necessary) elimination of capitalist relations. This paper contributes to the symposium in three complementary ways. First, it critiques the application of dialectical readings of human-nature relations as articulated in the Foster-Moore debate. Secondly, it re-articulates that reading through the lens of the dialectical biospheric analytics of late Soviet ecology. And third, via the latter, and invoking the dialectical thought of Evald Ilyenkov, it moves away from Eurocentric epistemologies of Green Marxism.

 

DiscussantEmma Foster (University of Birmingham)

Emma Foster is a lecturer in international politics and gender at the University of Birmingham. Emma’s research examines constructions of gender and sexuality within environment, development and population policy at the international level. Emma has published in a variety of journals – including Globalisations, BJPIR, and Gender, Place and Culture – as well as contributing to a number of edited collections.

 

The event is hosted by CSE/Capital and Class Midlands at the University of Birmingham, with support from the University of Birmingham School of Government Internationalisation Fund

 

All welcome!

Film showing – The Psychosis of Whiteness, with an introduction by the director, Dr Eugene Nulman

21 Mar

whitepsych2

The Psychosis of Whiteness
Muirhead Tower, lecture theatre (G15)
University of Birmingham
5pm, 17 May 2019

The Psychosis of Whiteness is a documentary film that sheds light on society’s perceptions of race and racism by exploring cinematic representations of the slave trade. This documentary takes an in-depth look at big budget films that focus on the transatlantic slave trade and, using a wealth of sources and interviews, it argues that these depictions are metaphoric hallucinations about race. Rather than blaming the powerful institutions that are responsible for slavery, these films rewrite history by praising those same institutions for abolishing the slave trade.

All welcome!

Dr Eugene Nulman is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Birmingham City University. He is the author of the book Climate Change and Social Movements and has published academic articles in Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, Environmental Politics, Third World Quarterly, European Journal of Social Theory, and Media, Culture and Society. The Psychosis of Whiteness is his directorial debut.

Automation, Changing Work, and New Ways of Struggle

22 Feb

Confirmed speakers: Phoebe Moore (University of Leicester), Petros Elia and Susana Benavides (United Voices of the World), Saori Shibata (Leiden University)

Saturday 9 March
3-5pm
Artefact, Birmingham

Hosted by CSE/Capital and Class Midlands and the Contemporary Philosophy of Technology Research Group

The world of work is changing. We see rapid moves towards automation, quantified work, precarity, and zero-hour contracts. But at the same time we see new and different ways in which workplace struggle is conducted. This event provides an opportunity for those interested in these different changes – to the workplace and to resistance in the workplace – to come together and discuss recent research and to reflect on ongoing campaigns. The session will focus on:

  • research into the changing nature of the (digital) workplace by Phoebe Moore, leading international scholar of the political economy of technology and work;
  • a discussion from two of the leading trade union activists from the United Voices of the World, Petros Elia and Susana Benavides, who recently won a major victory following dismissal for organising for a living wage campaign at Top Shop;
  • a discussion by Saori Shibata, lecturer in the political economy of Japan, of how the creation of precarious workers is being contested in the changing capitalist context of Japan.

There will plenty of opportunity for discussion, debate, and plotting the next moves in the struggle against capitalism.

Bios

Phoebe Moore is Associate Professor of Political Economy and Technology at the University of Leicester. Her research looks at the impact of technology on work from a critical perspective, looking at quantification through wearable tracking and algorithmic decision-making as a set of management techniques, and she recently carried out a prestigious Research Fellowship at the Weizenbaum Institute in Berlin where she focused on the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) within the workplace.

Petros Elia is originally from the UK, and lived in Caracas, Venezuela for 3 years. Upon his return to London, he met with Latin American communities, and saw institutional workplace abuse of migrants. In January 2014 he was a founder member of the United Voices of the World, which has quickly gained an international reputation as one of the most vibrant and militant campainging unions organising mainly migrant workers in London. Recent high profile campaigns have focused on Harrods, LSE and the Ministry of Justice.

Susana Benavides is originally from Ecuador, and moved to Spain after the 1998 banking crisis. When the 2008 crash unfolded, she moved again, this time to London, working as a Topshop cleaner until her unlawful dismissal for demanding a living wage with the support of her union, UVW. The case went to a tribunal in 2018, seeing the employer, Britannia, admit that they had unfairly dismissed her co-claimant (Carolina), whilst stubbornly not conceding the same in Susana’s case. Susana is a member of the UVW’s non-hierarchal Executive Committee and a key organiser in UVW’s ongoing campaigns.

Saori Shibata is lecturer in the political economy of Japan (Leiden University). Her resesarch focuses on the changing nature of capitalism within Japan, especially the different ways in which the move towards non-regular working patterns is being contested and challenged through new forms of workers’ resistance.

 

Almost There: An undisciplined history of the sociology of Operaismo

31 Jan

Gerardo Costabile Nicoletta (University of Naples Federico II)

Wednesday 20 February
5.00pm
University of Birmingham (Muirhead 122)

Operaismo and post-operaismo represent a complex galaxy of analyses, conceptual tools and methodological tenets rooted in specific and singular historical contingencies, rather than being a homogeneous and unequivocal corpus of theories. Whereas the former emerged in the violent industrialization of Italy and against the Communist Party’s national and reformist strategies in the post-war years, offering an innovative and groundbreaking interpretation of Marxism, the latter, elaborated between prisons, exile and student’s struggles, began to fit discursively into the knowledge society euphoria of the 90s. Notwithstanding the spread of operaist conceptions in the English-speaking political and social sciences, a critical account of the sociological method from which Operaismo emerged is still lacking. By looking at the transnational socio-historical discursive practices and events (re)producing such texts and theories, this lecture intends to offer a critical sociology of knowledge as well as a genealogy of heterodox and heretical Marxism in the Italian experience, contextualized in the broader dynamics of the global political economy.

The talk offers a cartography of Italian Autonomous Marxism practices, theories and debates from the mid-50s, passing through 70s molecularization and military repression until the recent revival of cognitive capitalism and the ‘institutions of common’ during the latest decades. This socio-historical contextualization will show how the practices and discourses of the Italian technocratic elites  reacted to the unmanageable everyday practices of lay and undisciplined subjectivities from which Operaist sociology built and developed antagonistic epistemological methods, sophisticated conceptual innovations and political tactics and strategies. Starting from this discussion, the recent development of post-operaisti will be critically analyzed within current debates about hegemony, praxis and institutional compromise of the European social movements. The theoretically-informed narratives of the talk offers a profane and relational approach to domination-emancipation dynamics through the lens of precise socio-historical contexts, proposing an undisciplined transnational history of the sociology of Operaismo.

 

Gerardo Costabile Nicoletta received his PhD at the University of Naples Federico II, Department of Sociology, where he is currently a Teaching Fellow in the history of sociology and social knowledge. His work focuses on economic experts discourses and practices at local, national and global dimension, analyzed from the resistances and sabotaging practices of lay people. He is currently writing a book on the politics of economic experts in the making of ordoliberal Europe and the articles ‘Peripheries as laboratory for economic expertise: The case of the Italian Mezzogiorno’ and ‘The Italian model of development:Lay and undisciplined perspective on Italian disciplinary economics’ are under peer-review process.

Gender and Contemporary Capitalism

20 Dec

Image result for women's strike symbolImage result for women's budget group

Sue Himmelweit (Open University and the Women’s Budget Group) 

Adrienne Roberts (University of Manchester)

Tuesday 29 January, 4.30pm
University of Birmingham (Muirhead 715)
 
This session brings together two leading scholars in feminist historical materialism and feminist economics, providing an opportunity to consider the way in which a focus on gender can inform our understanding of contemporary capitalism.
 
Susan Himmelweit is Emeritus Professor at the Open University, was the founding chair of the Women’s Budget Group and has been a leading contributor to some of the key debates around care work within the Conference of Socialist Economists and elsewhere. She is a feminist economist who challenges the gender-blindness of economics and focuses especially on issues at the boundary of the paid and unpaid economies, theory and policy around care, and the gender analysis of budgets. Here she will discuss the work of the Women’s Budget Group, and how feminist economics can contribute to a critical analysis of contemporary capitalism.
 
Adrienne Roberts is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Politics at the University of Manchester. She specializes in feminist international political economy with a particular focus on the gendered relations of finance, debt, development, and trade. Her recent book, Gendered States of Punishment and Welfarepresents a feminist historical materialist analysis of legal and penal regimes, and social policies, highlighting their highly gendered disciplinary roles throughout the history of capitalism. This book features as the subject of a review symposium in the current issue of Capital and Class. Her talk will present some of the key ideas of the book, and explore some of the contributions that feminist historical materialism can make to current critical scholarship.
 
The event will provide plenty of opportunity for discussion around the themes raised.
 
All welcome!

 

The rise and fall of managerialism: from Veblen to shareholder value

4 Dec

Hugo Radice (University of Leeds)
The rise and fall of managerialism: from Veblen to shareholder value
Thursday 24 January, 4.30pm
University of Birmingham (Muirhead 112)

In analysing capitalism we need also to understand the social relations internal to the corporation. Beyond a simple relationship between ‘owners’ and ‘workers’, this also includes the relationship between the owners of the corporation and its executive management. In contributing to this debate, Hugo Radice will consider the history of managerialism as a distinct social force shaping the corporation and its wider politics.

Hugo Radice is a a Life Fellow of the University of Leeds and has been active in the Conference of Socialist Economists since its foundation in 1970.

All welcome!