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Eva Kolinsky

In the political and economic history of Germany, Leipzig already

held a special place long before unification. Since the middle ages, it

has hosted one of the most important trade fairs in Europe. When

industrialization turned Germany in the late nineteenth century into

a leading European power, outpacing France and closely rivaling

Britain, Leipzig added to its established and internationally acclaimed

fur and book trade a mighty industrial sector in lignite-based chemicals

and vehicle production. At the turn of the century, Leipzig was

one of the largest and most affluent cities of Germany and indeed

Europe. A rich stock of Gründerzeit houses remains to testify to this

illustrious past.

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When Time is Money

Contested Rationalities of Time in the Theory and Practice of Work

Barbara Adam

At the beginning of the twenty-first century work has attained a new local and global quality. Localised and individualised efficiency deals are established where previously standards would have been set nationally and bargained for collectively. At the same time, work is negotiated in the context of a global labour market and global competition: the world, not nations, is the market where labour is traded and the fate of much future work sealed. Electronic communication, low transport costs and deregulated, unrestricted trade dissolved many of the boundaries that used to delimit the competition for work on the one hand, the negotiations over conditions on the other. Since the leading industrial nations have committed themselves to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the rules set out by the World Trade Organisation (WTO), it is difficult for any nation to extricate itself from the logic of the competitive global market. ‘At a world level’, as Hans-Peter Martin and Harald Schumann (1997: 7) point out, ‘more than 40,000 transnational corporations of varying shapes and sizes play off their own employees (as well as different nation states) against one another.’ There are always workers somewhere else able and willing to do the job cheaper than North Americans or North/West Europeans.

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Slavery as the commodification of people

Wa "slaves" and their Chinese "sisters"

Magnus Fiskesjö

In the 1950s, teams of Chinese government ethnologists helped liberate “slaves” whom they identified among the Wa people in the course of China’s military annexation and pacification of the formerly autonomous Wa lands, between China and Burma. For the Chinese, the “discovery” of these “slaves” proved the Engels-Morganian evolutionist theory that the supposedly primitive and therefore predominantly egalitarian Wa society was teetering on the threshold between Ur- Communism and ancient slavery. A closer examination of the historical and cultural context of slavery in China and in the Wa lands reveals a different dynamics of commodification, which also sheds light on slavery more generally. In this article I discuss the rejection of slavery under Wa kinship ideology, the adoption of child war captives, and the anomalous Chinese mine slaves in the Wa lands. I also discuss the trade in people emerging with the opium export economy of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century which helped sustain, yet also threatened, autonomous Wa society. I suggest that past Wa “slave” trade was spurred by the same processes of commodification that historically drove the Chinese trade in people, and in recent decades have produced the large-scale human trafficking across Asia, which UN officials have labeled “the largest slave trade in history” and which often hides slavery under the cover of kinship.

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Don’t know much about NAFTA

The continued importance of a global issues general education course

Carol D. Miller

At the beginning of the semester, 42.6 per cent of undergraduates enrolled in a lower division, general education global studies course at a comprehensive state university in the Midwestern United States reported that they ‘didn’t know’ what the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was, and 85 per cent believed that, in general, trade with other countries created jobs. Analyses of data show that those who did not rely on TV or radio for their news sources were less likely to know what NAFTA was, but their knowledge transformed by the end of the semester. Results demonstrated the necessity for general education courses focused on global issues in an era when students do not rely on traditional sources for news information.

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Gwyn Williams

This paper explores the rights-based cosmopolitanism of French anti-GM activists and their challenge to the neoliberal cosmopolitanism of the World Trade Organization and multinational corporations. Activists argue that genetic modification, patents, and WTO-brokered free trade agreements are the means by which multinationals deny people fundamental rights and seek to dominate global agriculture. Through forms of protest, which include cutting down field trials of genetically modified crops, activists resist this agenda of domination and champion the rights of farmers and nations to opt out of the global agricultural model promoted by biotechnology companies. In so doing, they defend the local. This defense, however, is based on a cosmopolitan discourse of fundamental rights and the common good. I argue that activists' cosmopolitan perspective does not transcend the local but is intimately related to a particular understanding of it.

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Women’s Health in Central Asia

The Case of Female Suitcase Traders

Muyassar Turaeva

This article assesses the social factors that influence the health of female suitcase traders and the health risks related to the trade as an occupation. The findings indicate that it is imperative to study the health of small-scale traders within the framework of occupational health. Suitcase trade is widespread in both developing countries and the post-Soviet region, and recognising it as an occupation makes it possible to research related health issues. This in turn can lead to the discovery of specific patterns regarding health risks and the treatment of typical illnesses of suitcase traders, thus facilitating comparison with other occupational health research. The article examines existing barriers to health for women in Central Asia and summarises the quality and content of the treatment that is available.

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Clutching the Ladder of Development

European Sugar Reform in Poland

Dong Ju Kim

In the last two decades, privatisation has been slowly progressing in Poland. I examine the case of beet-sugar factories in western Poland, which were privatised between 1995 and 2003. As this process was coming to an end, reform for the European Common Agricultural Policy was implemented and, after Poland joined the European Union, the European sugar market reform started to take shape as a result of a global trade dispute on subsidised sugar prices. I recount the story of sugar factory privatisation and multiple reform processes from the viewpoint of sugar beet farmers, factory managers, and local rural experts from the province of Wielkopolska in western Poland. These accounts will show how sugar market reforms affected the aftermath of privatisation and factory close-downs, and how these experiences have prompted local people to think of being Polish within Europe, but reluctantly European within a global framework of sugar trade.

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Joshua A. Fogel

One of the most famous voyages in the modern history of East Asia occurred in 1862 when, for the first time in over three centuries, Japanese were sent on an official mission of investigation and trade to China. There had been limited Sino-Japanese contacts throughout those many years carried out by Chinese trading vessels that made periodic trips to Hirado and later Nagasaki, the only port open to them during most of the Tokugawa era (1600–1868); and a small number of Japanese fishermen had been shipwrecked, picked up by British or American vessels and deposited in Shanghai, though often not repatriated for many years thereafter because of the stringent travel restrictions of their homeland, for Japanese remained strictly forbidden from venturing on the seas.

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Of Golden Anniversaries and Bicentennials

The Convergence of Memory, Tourism and National History in Ghana

Cheryl Finley

The year 2007 marks the fiftieth anniversary of Ghana and the two hundredth anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade. The Ghana Ministry of Tourism and Diasporan Affairs is planning the Joseph Project, a roots tourism initiative, aimed at ‘welcoming home’ its African diaspora. The historic slave forts and castles on Ghana’s coast are important sites for diasporic roots tourists, who also maintain symbolic links to Ghana’s independence movement through the history of Pan-Africanism. The Joseph Project uniquely includes a programme of national healing and atonement for African complicity in the slave trade and aims to remap national memory through tourism, education and the establishment of new museums, monuments and rituals.

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Martin Carnoy

Few dispute the notion that the rapid development of industrialising economies in Asia and Latin America, new information technologies, liberalisation of trade, and global financial markets have contributed to the emergence of a truly global economy in the past ten years. Neither do they dispute that national economies almost everywhere in the world have become increasingly less ‘national’. Most countries’ foreign trade has increased, and in many, foreign investment and payment on foreign debt have become more prevalent than in the past. Labour movements also appear to be increasing, especially the movement of highly skilled labour. But does this mean that nation-states have decreased influence over the definition of economic and social life? Does globalisation imply the demise of the nation-state?