21 Apr 2017 - 22 Apr 2017 All day Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, Cambridge, CB3 9DT


Registration for this workshop is now closed. 

There will also be a public event, 'Mobilising Precarious Workers in the UK', from 6pm on Friday 21 April. This is open to all, free of charge. 



Sian Lazar (University of Cambridge)



The workshop will discuss how labour is organized in different contexts across Africa, Latin America, North America, Asia and Europe, and what effects such organization has on labour relations under conditions of economic precarity. Papers will examine precarity as a condition of life and one of the bases for a collective politics of labour, but without prejudging how that politics might look. Instead, they will document labour politics and organisation of all kinds. The workshop speaks to debates about the continuing relevance of labour-based mobilisation for economic justice, rights and well-being in a contemporary political context that often overlooks its very real impact across the globe.

The workshop will also speak to current debates about resilience in the face of precarious conditions of life and work. In contemporary development and security discourse, resilience is usually taken to mean the ability to cope with unusual adversity or disaster, but what about the ability to cope with precarity itself? How far do informal sector workers create mechanisms of resilience that rely on collective strategies? What are they? Or does precarity instead promote individual responses to problem-solving? When does resilience become resistance or does resilience preclude resistance (or revolution)?




Supported by the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH), the Centre of Latin American Studies and the Division of Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge, and the Fritz Thyssen Foundation. 


Administrative assistance: events@crassh.cam.ac.uk


Day 1 - Friday 21 April
8.50 - 9.15


9.15 - 9.30

Welcome and opening comments

9.30 - 11.00

Session 1

Discussant: Gavin Smith (University of Toronto)


Hasan Ashraf (University of Amsterdam and Jahangirnagar University) and Rebecca Prentice (University of Sussex)

Precarity, Health, and Labour Politics in Bangladesh’s Export Garment Industry


Kate Griffiths (CUNY)

DeSkilling and Precarity in South Africa’s Health Sector: Global Austerity and Working Class Identity

11.00 - 11.30


11.30 - 13.00

Session 2

Discussant: Sharryn Kasmir (Hofstra University)


Patrícia Matos (University of Barcelona)

Locating Precarization: the state, social reproduction and the politics of precarity in Portugal


Michael Hoffmann (University of Cologne)

Informal Labour politics, Precarity and Resilience in a Modern Food-Processing Factory in Western, Post-Conflict Nepal.

13.00 - 14.00


14.00 - 15.30

Session 3

Discussant: Deborah James (London School of Economics) 


Pnina Werbner (Keele University)

Legal Mobilisation, Legal Scepticism and the Politics of Public Sector Unions in Botswana


Christian Zlolniski (University of Texas at Arlington)

Mobilizing for their Rights as Labourers and Settlers: Indigenous Farmworkers in Northern Mexico

15.30 - 16.00


16.00 - 17.30

Session 4

Discussant: Don Kalb (CEU, University of Bergen and Max Planck Institute-Halle)


Eeva Kesküla (Tallinn University) and Andrew Sanchez (University of Cambridge)

Everyday Barricades: Banality and the Paradox of Class Struggle in Global Trade Unions


Vito Laterza (University of Oslo)

Mobilising tradition: Swazi workers’ struggles between spontaneous action and customary ideologies

18.00 - 19.00

Public Event: Mobilising Precarious Workers in the UK

Henry Chango López and Jason Moyer-Lee (IWGB)

From Invisible to Invincible: The 3 Cosas Campaign in London and New Challenges Ahead. 


This event is also a book launch for Where are the Unions? Workers and Social Movements in Latin America, the Middle East, and Europe, edited by Sian Lazar, and published in March 2017 by Zed books.

Day 2 - Saturday 22 April
9.30 - 11.00

Session 5

Discussant: Sian Lazar (University of Cambridge)


August Carbonella (Memorial University)

Cross-Atlantic Connections: The Universalist Politics of 19th Century Labour Movements


Elisabeth Schober (University of Oslo)

Precarity, by Comparison: The Uncertain Transnationalisation of Labour Politics in South Korea and the Philippines.

11.00 - 11.30


11.30 - 13.00

Session 6

Discussant: Nadya Araujo Guimarães (University of São Paulo)


Madhumita Dutta (Pennsylvania State University)

‘But the company is us’: Reflections on the everyday politics of labour at a global production site in Tamil Nadu, India. 


María Inés Fernández Álvarez (UBA-CONICET)

'Having a name of one’s own, being part of history': temporalities and political subjectivities of popular economy workers in Argentina. 

13.00 - 14.00


14.00 - 15.30

Session 7

Discussant: Sharryn Kasmir (Hofstra University)


Patrick O’Hare (University of Cambridge)

'The landfill has always born fruit': Precarity and Security Amongst Montevideo’s Waste-pickers


Dina Makram-Ebeid (American University in Cairo)

Precarious Revolution: The Forgotten Resistance of Informal Sector Workers in Egypt

15.30 - 16.00


16.00 - 17.30


Nadya Araujo Guimarães, Deborah James, Don Kalb, Sharryn Kasmir, Gavin Smith

Upcoming Events


Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk