View the h-asia Discussion Logs by month
View the Prior Message in h-asia's August 2003 logs by: [date] [author] [thread]
View the Next Message in h-asia's August 2003 logs by: [date] [author] [thread]
Visit the h-asia home page.
H-ASIA August 27, 2003 Call for papers: 4th International Conference, Association of Indian Labour Historians, Delhi, March 2004 (forwarded by Dr. Dilip Simeon) ------ Ed. note: The delay in posting this item arose because of my being off- line whilst participating in the ICAS2003 in Singapore. FFC ************************************************************************ From: Dilip Simeon <email@example.com> The following call for papers will be of interest to H-ASIA members: From: Harsh Kapoor <firstname.lastname@example.org> The Association of Indian Labour Historians Fourth International Conference : March 18-20, 2004 New Delhi Labour Movement: the History of Labour Mobility 1./ Introduction: the Problem of Mobility Paradoxically, mobility has long been recognised as being central to stable working class formation. Classical accounts of the formation of the working class usually relegated mobility to the prehistory of labour formation. After the initial move from rural, agricultural, primary sector locations, the labour force was expected to become rooted in the urban/factory setting. It was when the unsettling mobility of labour ceased that the politically aware labour movement was expected to strike roots among workers. Mobility thus remained a necessary but insufficient condition for the emergence of working class politics and consciousness. It was only after that the so called true history of labour was expected to begin. When classical accounts encountered a persistence of mobility among workers, this was seen as a sign of insufficient or incomplete development. Partial proletarianisation, partial labour commitment and amphibian worker were some of the descriptions used for this hybrid condition. The problem with this classical account of mobility has become increasingly evident - as workers after a century and half of industrialisation seem still to persist in moving, and in maintaining links with rural locations. With the global decline of the labour movement, and the destabilisation of factory labour, the mobility of labour is once again being recognised as integral to the coping strategy of workers in the face of the grave uncertainties of the labour market. At the same time, the proliferation of out-sourcing, chains of subcontracting and the revival of putting-out systems forces us to recognise the ways in which global capital has adapted and utilised this persistent mobility of labour. The renewed interest in mobility of labour provides the vantage point for recasting the history of the labour movement in India. If mobility is seen not as a one-off affair, the conventional underpinnings of the histories of working-class formation, working class politics and consciousness need to be rethought. Mobility was often seen as inimical to the development of strong organisations, and consequently an index of weak bargaining power. This view neglected the ways in which mobility itself was a mode of workers' resistance, as also the ways in which migrant and circulating workers historically organised themselves. This shift of focus from the conventional ideas about the labour movement to the hidden forms of workers resistance could help historians bring to light the infra politics of labour associated with mobility. 2./ Patterns of Mobility: themes for study If mobility is no longer seen as a peripheral or 'initial' condition, but in some sense a structural feature of modern capitalism, its implications include legal, technical, ethnographic and political aspects. Thus, we need to be seriously interested in the technologies that capital devised for moving labour, the demographic connotations of labour mobility, and the legal apparatus and ideological justifications that accompanied these processes. Broadly speaking, the historical material could be arranged under four related rubrics: legal-institutional, demographic-technological; ethnographic; and political (in the broad sense of forms of organisation and resistance). 2.1/ Mobility raises issues of formalising the presence of worker migrants, legal forms of emplacement, civic rights, the need for employers to devise novel methods of control; etc. Special Economic Zones (SEZs) or their precursors in the 19th century Plantation Complex , specially devised regulations for immobilising labour like in the elaborate indenture and master and servant laws laws or visa regulations ; new kinds of civic/legal status for migrants, etc are examples of institutional structures that are set in place as a means of supervising mobile work-forces. Attached to this rubric will be the study of penal systems meant to control flight (or undesirable mobility) on the part of workers who might want to move again, against the convenience of the employers. It would also include modes of civic deprivation directly linked to mobility - as in the (practically speaking) disenfranchisement of casual and migrant workers in India. 2.2/ The demography of labour movement includes the complex factors responsible for migration; the processes and networks of recruitment and self-recruitment; and modes of labour transportation. What factors bring about mobility? How far do workers choose to migrate, and by what methods do they assist in the migration of their fellow workers? Nineteenth century steamships and railways revolutionised the global movement of labour drawn from the colonies. Some 30 million Indians moved overseas, and the process continues, with air transportation to places such as the Persian Gulf. The building and operating of this network was and remains a mammoth task. Railway workers have been the single largest segment but one of the least studied sectors in Indian labour history. Their significance for the mobilisation of the circulating labour force has not been sufficiently explored. It is appropriate that on the 150th anniversary of the Indian railways we focus our attention on the history of railway labour. 2.3/ The ethnography of colonial labour, the caste and gender-based classifications that determined the suitability of labour for this or that labour process, were part and parcel of the ideological systems that facilitated labour mobility. This rubric will deal with those ethnographies that were linked directly with mobile and migrant work forces, as well as gender issues within these work forces. Degraded social status could also be seen as levers for migration. Gangs or even large populations of 'low-caste' workers function as mobile bantustans, whose very mobility renders them vulnerable to powerful contractors, and effectively deprives them of citizens rights. (This matter is linked to issues raised in para 2.1, above). A curious feature that has dominated the issue of mobility is that of the so called gender segregation in patterns of labour mobility. Males predominate in long distance migration for wage employment while females by far the larger segment in the total migrant stream dominate the short distance migration .The latter phenomena has long been studied under the rubric of "marriage migration". But surely marriage migrations were also elaborate labour arrangements that allowed the males to move to more distant labour markets. What consequence did gender segregation and the preponderance of males or females in certain migration streams have for the labouring experience? 2.4/ How have migrant workers dealt with their status as temporarily or permanently displaced people? Have there been cases where large (or small) scale migrations have functioned as modes of resistance? What organisational forms have they evolved? These and related questions form the subject matter of the last rubric- that of politics of labour mobility. The Association of Indian Labour Historians invites papers on the above themes for its Fourth International Conference to be held in Delhi on March 18-20, 2004. The following themes are offered as suggestions for issues to be taken up in the conference Changing paradigms of Labour Mobility Long term trends in patterns of mobility: Regional and Global Modes of Regulations of Labour mobility Mobility and informalisation of labour Special Economic Zones and Plantation Labour Caste/ social oppression as levers of mobility - deprivation of civic rights, Migrant communities as 'floating bantustans'? Mobility and Labouring identity : Politics of Ethnicity and Labour Gender issues in Labour mobility Labour migrants in the urban world Mobility of Labour and Labour Movement Organisational forms of Migrant Labour Patterns of resistance of migrant labour Moving Labour: Labour in Railways and other modes of Transportation The above are indicative themes. Participants are welcome to contribute papers on topics of their choice within the broad theme of history of labour mobility. As always papers based on issues of labour history other than the chosen theme of the conference shall also find place in the conference. Prospective participants may kindly send abstracts of their papers and the full paper to the Secretary, AILH, according to the following deadlines. December 15 for abstracts (upto 500 words); February 2004 for papers (upto 10,000 words) e-mail ID: <email@example.com> Secretary Prabhu Mohapatra _________________________________ Labour Notes South Asia (LNSA): An informal archive and mailing list for trade unionists and labour activists based in or working on South asia. LNSA Mailing List: Labour Notes South Asia To subscribe send a blank message to: <firstname.lastname@example.org> LNSA Web site: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/lnsa/ Run by The South Asia Citizens Web http://www.mnet.fr/aiindex/ ================================================================= To post to H-ASIA simply send your message to: <H-ASIA@h-net.msu.edu> For holidays or short absences send post to: <email@example.com> with message: SET H-ASIA NOMAIL Upon return, send post with message SET H-ASIA MAIL H-ASIA WEB HOMEPAGE URL: http://h-net.msu.edu/~asia/