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May 25-26, 2023

Jackman Humanities Institute, University of Toronto

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Scholarship examining labour history and studies in the “Global South” too often continues to prioritize western centric categories of the “proletariat” and working-class, marginalizing a range of people and labour forms. Regardless of the scale of inquiry – translocal, national, transnational – the scholarly emphasis on capital and capitalism has resulted in the dominance of structuralist accounts of human agency. The over-emphasis on context has reduced humans to subjects of powerful (economic and material) forces, leaving little room for peoples’ experiences, emotions and perceptions. Moreover, these frameworks and conceptual categories often take labour as a known, where its contours and character are assumed and therefore insufficiently investigated. To move beyond canonical western and structuralist conceptualizations of labour, this workshop prioritizes new approaches to understanding labour in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. 

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