17 Feb 2016 5:00pm - 7:00pm Seminar Room SG2, Alison Richard Building


Dr Chris Harker (Geography, University of Durham)
Dr Carmen Teeple Hopkins (Geography, University of Oxford)
Dr Brian Sloan (Law, University of Cambridge)


Dr Chris Harker
Unworked pay: debt, gender, and endurance in Ramallah

In my presentation I will consider the relationship between debt and unpaid work in the Palestinian city of Ramallah. Debt – present consumption bought with future labour – can be considered a form of unworked pay. In governing the future, debt governs the unpaid paid work in households in particular ways. In Ramallah, women become responsible for managing the problems that indebtedness causes within daily family life. Debt also intersects the various social obligations that Ramallah’s residents maintain. While in some cases debt enables other forms of obligation to be enacted, in the majority of cases it inhibits their performance. The necessity of working for money to repay one’s debt thus undermines forms of unpaid work that ensure forms of social – and in the Palestinian context – political endurance.

Dr Carmen Teeple Hopkins
Sexist islamophobia: Violence against Muslim women in public space through the lens of unwaged socially reproductive labour.

In recent years, geographers have identified the exclusion of Muslims from public space as a significant and growing concern. There are a number of reasons for these spatial exclusions, such as legislation against religious symbols and face veils (e.g. France), housing and income inequalities, and discrimination against Muslims during hiring processes. Meanwhile, empirical studies demonstrate that Muslims experience higher levels of fear than non-Muslims when acts of terrorism occur (Rubin et al. 2005; Pain 2010; Kong 2010). One reason for this fear is that hostility is directed toward visible markers of Islamic piety, namely beards and veils, as well as religiously-marked buildings such as mosques (Hopkins 2004; Pain 2010). Research in Sweden demonstrates that veiled women are more likely to be harassed or attacked in public than Muslim men, often when they are with their children (Listerborn 2013). Yet this phenomenon has not been explicitly linked to feminist geographies of social reproduction. For instance, a few days after the November 13, 2015 Paris attacks, a Muslim woman in Toronto allegedly was attacked while she was picking up her children from school and the attackers told the woman to “go back to your country” (Nielsen, Shum, and Miller 2015). Although the domestic labour that women have long performed in the home has received considerable attention by feminists for decades, this scholarship has yet to attend to questions of faith. While the research on religion considers the experiences of Muslims outside the home, it seldom refers to the literature on unwaged caring work. This paper addresses these gaps by arguing that theories of social reproduction in public space offer an important vantage point to understand the impact of everyday violence on the lives of Muslim women in global north countries.


Dr Brian Slopan
‘Unpaid Work: Claiming Value’ Panel Session 

I am primarily a doctrinal legal scholar.  I therefore spend much of my time analysing the judgments of decided court cases, statutes and reform proposals, and considering their normative implications.  I do, however, make significant use of the empirical and more philosophical work of scholars in other fields, including feminist literature, to inform my research. In the session, I will explore the extent to which a legal approach adds a distinctive element to the recognition and valuation of unpaid care work, and to the distinction between formal and informal care.
My work on care (forming the basis of my contribution to the panel session) has two main strands.  The first is encapsulated in my monograph, Informal Carers and Private Law. The book considers the scope for a ‘private law’ approach to rewarding, supporting or compensating informal (i.e. generally unpaid) carers in recognition of their work, via a claim against care recipients or (more likely) their estates.  It addresses the possible normative justifications for such a claim, particularly as compared to justifications for greater state provision of formal care or support for carers.  Most of the book, however, is concerned with the extent to which private law in England and Wales, Australia, New Zealand and Canada currently recognises and values care work in private homes.  I argued that there was scope for an increase in, and a rationalisation of, the recognition accorded to the informal carer within private law. In Lent 2015, I used a CRASSH Early Career Fellowship to begin a project on ‘Adult Social Care and Property Rights’, constituting the second main strand of my care research.  The project assesses the impact of the Care Act 2014 on the provision of social care in England and on the property rights of care recipients and those who might legitimately expect to inherit from those recipients.  While this new project ostensibly concerns formal social care rather than informal care, it nevertheless has a clear connection with my previous work, since (for example): liability to pay for social care will have a considerable a impact on claims covered in Informal Care and Private Law and voluntary gifts with similar effects; ready availability of social care should in principle reduce the need for informal care; and the Care Act covers the provision of services to carers as well as those needing care.  


Open to all.  No registration required
Part of the Rethinking Work Research Group Seminar Series

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