This article examines two distinct yet overlapping cultures of mobility in turn-of-the-century Ecuador. On the one hand, there was a modernizing culture that sought to implement utopian modes of transportation between the Andes and the Amazon. On the other hand, there were indigenous porters and pilots, who had nonhegemonic ideas about mobility and labor. This article argues that (1) indigenous labor was based on the performance of colonial habits, which I refer to as coloniality; (2) within this framework of spatial practice, native bodily rhythms could be interpreted as successful tactics of everyday resistance; and (3) the conflict between Indians and non-Indians reveals a universal, modern tension between machine and humanlike mobilities.
Mobile Cultures between the Andes and the Amazon around 1900
Jaime Moreno Tejada
This article examines the development of popular discourses of liberty as independence emerging from the struggles between peasants and landlords over the course of the late medieval and early modern periods. This discourse, relating to the aspirations of the dependent peasantry for free status, free tenure, and free labor, articulated a conception of independence that overlapped with the emerging republican discourse of the seventeenth century. However, whereas republicanism focuses almost exclusively on the arbitrary powers of the monarchical state, the popular tradition emphasizes freedom from the arbitrary powers of landlordism. After a brief introduction to the republican conception of liberty and a discussion of the dependent peasantry in England, the work of Gerrard Winstanley is presented as an innovative synthesis of popular and republican discourses of freedom as independence from the arbitrary powers of exploitation.
On false binaries in Hardt and Negri's trilogy
At the core of Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri's thesis that a new global form of sovereignty has replaced a previous imperialist geography is their claim that the capitalist mode of production has undergone a shift from a modern era in which “industrial labor“ was hegemonic to a postmodern era in which “immaterial labor“ has become hegemonic. In this article, I argue that capitalism in Europe (let alone other areas of the world) does not conform to this model. I draw on the history of Italian manufacturing and on my ethnographic research on the silk industry of northern Italy to question the analytic usefulness of their distinction between “industrial“ and “immaterial“ labor and to show that the latter has always been crucial to industrial production. I conclude that Hardt and Negri's attempt to expand the definition of productive labor to include the “multitude“ unwittingly parallels an emerging discourse that serves to legitimate transnational hierarchies of labor.
A Cross-National Panel Analysis of Unionization and Carbon Dioxide Emissions
Camila Huerta Alvarez, Julius Alexander McGee and Richard York
In this article, we assess whether unionization of national workforces influences growth in national carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per capita. Political-economic theories in environmental sociology propose that labor unions have the potential to affect environmental conditions. Yet, few studies have quantitatively assessed the influence of unionization on environmental outcomes using cross-national data. We estimate multilevel regression models using data on OECD member nations from 1970 to 2014. Results from our analysis indicate that unionization, measured as the percentage of workers who are union members, is negatively associated with CO2 emissions per capita, even when controlling for labor conditions. This finding suggests that unionization may promote environmental protection at the national level.
Brick factory work in postconflict Kailali, western Nepal
This article examines changing labor regimes in the wake of the Nepalese Maoist revolution through a historical and ethnographic exploration of brick factory in the Kailali district, western Nepal. I argue that the Maoist rebellion has helped to produce a new young, mobile, and urbanizing working class that in the new political context feels increasingly secure in claiming new spaces for its own emerging pleasure, pastimes, and sociality vis-à-vis existing hierarchies and customs. I further show that there is a broad base for solidarities among more and less skilled people within this proletariat, though such solidarity does not yet seem to reach beyond “ethnic” and linguistic boundaries. Highlighting these facets of the transformation of everyday labor regimes in a sociopolitical context that is in a high state of flux and change, the article looks into the consequences of the Maoist revolution in the working lives of ordinary people.
Georg Picot and Arianna Tassinari
Reform of the labor market has long been an important and controversial policy area in Italy, and it was one of Matteo Renzi's core concerns when he took up the leadership of the Democratic Party. This chapter recounts the main changes in Italian labor market policy since the 1990s before discussing the Jobs Act, which started as a highly publicized reform project concentrating on changes to public employment services and unemployment benefits, but which the left strongly challenged when dismissal protection was later weakened.
E. P. Thompson's time-sense at the edges of Rio de Janeiro
Kathleen M. Millar
This article puts E. P. Thompson's writings on time-sense in conversation with the temporality of work on a garbage dump in the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. At this site, several thousand urban poor (catadores) collect recyclables for a living outside relations of wage labor. The lived experience of “woven time” on the dump, which combines labor with other activities of the everyday, has fashioned what these workers call “a different rhythm of life.” Diverging from other temporalities of neoliberal capitalism, such as “ruptured time,” woven time emerges as an important dimension of a life well lived, as conceived by catadores. Attention to the micro-temporalities of wageless work reveals how precarious forms of labor in contemporary capitalism constitute processes of subject making that both parallel and diverge from the transition to wage labor that Thompson describes in his social history of capitalism.
Blogs and the Recent History of Dispossessed Academic Labor
Claire Bond Potter
A contemporary history of higher education in the United States is being written on the Internet. Academic bloggers interrupt and circumvent the influence of professional associations over debates about unemployment, contingent labor, publishing, tenure review, and other aspects of creating and maintaining a scholarly career. On the Internet, limited status and prestige, as well as one's invisibility as a colleague, are no barrier to acquiring an audience within the profession or creating a contemporary archive of academic labor struggles. At a moment of financial and political crisis for universities, these virtual historians have increasingly turned their critical faculties to scrutinizing, critiquing, and documenting the neoliberal university. Although blogging has not displaced established sources of intellectual prestige, virtual historians are engaged in the project of constructing their own scholarly identities and expanding what counts as intellectual and political labor for scholars excluded from the world of full-time employment.
The post–Great Recession, zombielike resurrection of neoliberalism has taken much of Europe and the United States on a hard-right detour into a twilight zone of populist nationalism, where far-right critiques of the status quo resonate more deeply with the white working class than leftist analyses. As rising fears of cultural eclipse, economic decline, and elite resentment drive the appeal of right-wing nationalists in the United States, Europe, India, and beyond, what role should intellectuals, and especially anthropologists, play in countering the creeping authoritarianism and growing inequality of our times? What kind of leverage can intellectual labor have on social reality? How can intellectuals broaden the boundaries of political possibility so that progressive, transformative collective action becomes imaginable?
Marc Roscoe Loustau
Why do post-pilgrimage slideshows help Transylvanian Hungarian Catholics perform domestic devotional labor? There is growing interest in breaking open pilgrimage research, and scholars have recently begun studying rituals of return—including pilgrims’ practice of using photographs to narrate their journeys after returning home. I contribute to this effort by sketching out the general characteristics of Transylvanian Hungarian Catholics’ post-pilgrimage slideshows about the Medjugorje shrine. I then give a detailed description of an exemplary case: a married couple’s presentation for their children gathered around the family computer. Although we might expect pilgrims to routinize stories and images from a chaotic journey, many slideshows were quite disorganized and impressionistic. This disorganization helped travelers tailor their stories to the diverse spiritual interests of guests in a changing Transylvanian Hungarian Catholic religious landscape. Family members’ conversations also dramatized how neoliberalism in Romania has emerged alongside new global pilgrimage sites like Medjugorje. Medjugorje appeals to pilgrims because it is a privileged site for advertising national wares on the global market.