Saturday 15 April 2023
11.00 - 13.00
Livelihoods at the Intersection between Work/non-work and Free/unfree Labour
Västra Hamngatan 25 AK2 133
Alexander Keese :
Forced Labour after Forced Labour: Understanding the Internal Dynamics and Local Challenges of Fighting Compulsory Work in Portuguese Angola in the Late Colonial Period, 1961–74
Christian De Vito
Léa Renard, Jessica Richter, Nicola Schalkowski
In one of the last – most scandalous – late colonial empires, the Portuguese empire, forced labour was only officially abolished in 1961. Thanks to Zachary Kagan Guthrie’s important observations on labour regimes in Portuguese Mozambique in the 1960s, it has become clear that compulsory labour continued at least during ... (Show more)
In one of the last – most scandalous – late colonial empires, the Portuguese empire, forced labour was only officially abolished in 1961. Thanks to Zachary Kagan Guthrie’s important observations on labour regimes in Portuguese Mozambique in the 1960s, it has become clear that compulsory labour continued at least during the recruitment of workers. For Angola, which was equally shaken by anticolonial rebellion and guerrilla warfare, the idea of continuities of forced labour is also present in older research, although existing interpretations simply remain at the surface of the trends and trajectories after 1961.
This paper will discuss the dynamics of battling continuities of compulsory work: between the roles of new actors, such as the Portuguese military fighting in the colony and the secret police (the PIDE/DGS), and the ongoing experience of group flight of local populations, although under changing circumstances. I will try to analyse the agency of reformist officials and of rural Angolans running away from forced labour and subsequently negotiating change. This will lead to an entangled history of unfree labour in its already illegal phase. (Show less)
Krista Lillemets :
Modern Working Class at Large in Historical Capitalism
This paper will challenge the Marxian and orthodox Marxist definition of capitalism by “free” wage labour, the “doubly free” worker, the self-owning proletarian, as the only capital and surplus-value producing labour. This definition has not resulted only in a limited analysis of capital but also in a very restricted notion ... (Show more)
This paper will challenge the Marxian and orthodox Marxist definition of capitalism by “free” wage labour, the “doubly free” worker, the self-owning proletarian, as the only capital and surplus-value producing labour. This definition has not resulted only in a limited analysis of capital but also in a very restricted notion of working class. Hence, the paper is divided into two parts. In the first part I will present four critical responses to the definition of capitalism by free wage labour, which has resulted in drawing a strict line between free and unfree, i.e., capitalist and pre-/non-capitalist labour. All of them agree that the definition, which makes “free” wage labour the norm of the capitalist mode of production, see slavery and other coerced (i.e., unfree) forms of labour exploitation as important historically for the “so-called primitive accumulation” in the mercantilist phase of capitalism but not theoretically. It transforms unfree and unwaged labour forms into “anomalies” and “survivals” in the capitalist mode of production, as they are meant to disappear sociologically, politically and analytically (Wallerstein 1985). First, the world-systems perspective permits to argue that if the unit of social analysis were the capitalist world-economy as a whole, then the essence of capitalism would be the combination of free and unfree forms of labour, and not just free labour (Wallerstein 1974: 127). Second, the revisits of “primitive accumulation” thesis (Harvey 2003; Dörre 2015) have suggested that accumulation based on expropriation (i.e., superexploitation) is part of the modus operandi of capitalist mode of production, although still being previous to capital. Third, scholars related to the Global Labour History (Linden 2011) maintain that in capitalism labour-power becomes a commodity in different forms, independently whether the workers own or not their labour power; all subaltern workers are subordinated to “coerced commodification of labour-power.” Fourth, scholars from historical sociology and political economy have advanced the theorisation of “capitalist slavery”, to what Marx’s work would also contribute (Bellamy Foster et. al. 2020; Clegg 2020). In the second part, I will present my own research based on the secondary literature about 19th-century “proletarian multiverse” (Linden and Roth 2014) in the capitalist world-economy. It will be shown that capital subsumes labour in various coerced forms and combines them unequally through the world-market. Whereas in England the formally free wage workers were subsumed under coerced contractual labour, in Brazil slavery was intensified in coffee production. At the same time, in the northeastern sugar regions free poor peasants (freed African and indigenous slaves) were subsumed under the regime of labour tenancy and British capitalists in the gold mines of Minas Gerais made use of slave-hiring. As much as there were in the 19th century global economy “wage slaves”, whose labour-power was hired out by slaveowners to capitalist employers, there were formally free workers, who could be subjected to forms of compulsory labour. (Show less)
Jessica Richter :
Neither Family Members nor Workers: Foster Children’s Social Rights and In/voluntary Contributions to Austrian Farms (ca. 1900-1938)
Family and household constellations differed significantly in Europe. This particularly affected the upbringing of children whose parents died at an early age or were unable to care for them. In Austria at the beginning of the 20th century, they were still often placed as foster children in the households of ... (Show more)
Family and household constellations differed significantly in Europe. This particularly affected the upbringing of children whose parents died at an early age or were unable to care for them. In Austria at the beginning of the 20th century, they were still often placed as foster children in the households of relatives or strangers, many of whom ran a small or medium-size farm. Particularly servants’ illegitimate daughters and sons shared this experience.
From an early age, foster children were required to "help out", meaning that they were gradually assigned to a wide variety of work in the agricultural business and the household. In addition, foster parents often kept them on the farm well after leaving school, with or against their will. There, now that they were fully fit for service, they were expected to compensate for their childhood board and lodging, as contemporaries often put it.
This paper explores the contributions of foster children to agricultural household economies at the intersection of un/free work and non-work. I discuss, on the one hand, how and against what other perspectives these children and young people were categorised and placed in the hierarchy of workers at and beyond the family farm. On the other hand, I examine foster children’s activities in the context of their integration into the peasant household and their opportunities to participate in its resources. How did administrative authorities, foster parents or, retrospectively, foster children themselves categorize and assess their activities – as work, an expression of household membership or something else? How and to what extent are conceptual classifications like un/free and in/voluntary labour useful to describe these contributions?
So far, research on the foster child system, the children’s lives and work relations is still rare. Especially a detailed examination of such work arrangements before the background of the intersections of un/free labour and work/non-work is lacking. On the one hand, the boundaries between household integration, family membership or non-membership and work were often unclear. Although foster children sometimes made considerable contributions to the household economy, they were hardly recognised as workers, let alone paid, even after the end of compulsory education. This also affected new social rights such as health insurance, which remained controversial and contested but became compulsory from around 1921, even in agriculture. Farmers had far-reaching possibilities to exempt family workers, including foster children, from insurance. Despite their contributions, moreover, many foster children were not accepted as family members or as full members of the household. While for some this "only" concerned their rank in relation to the farmers’ biological children, others report in retrospect of "slave labour" and particularly bad living conditions. This paper is based on former foster children’s autobiographical records as well as on disputed cases concerning health insurance. The accounts and case files show the diversity of practices as well as modes of household integration, which often hardly conformed to official categorisations. (Show less)
Magaly Rodríguez García :
To Work or not to Work: Policies and Practices of Prostitution in Belgium (Nineteenth Century to the Present)
The last decades have witnessed an impressive increase in the scientific analysis of sex work, prostitution in particular. Most historical accounts, however, remain focused on either local contexts – usually urban settings – or specific themes such as the politics of prostitution, stigma, colonialism or the position of international organisations ... (Show more)
The last decades have witnessed an impressive increase in the scientific analysis of sex work, prostitution in particular. Most historical accounts, however, remain focused on either local contexts – usually urban settings – or specific themes such as the politics of prostitution, stigma, colonialism or the position of international organisations vis-à-vis commercial sex and human trafficking. This paper attempts to provide a comprehensive overview of policies and practices of prostitution in Belgium from the nineteenth century onward. I argue that a national framework facilitates, on the one hand, a comparative analysis of local policies and on the other, a diachronic study of the discrepancy between policies and the realities of prostitution on the ground. Belgian policy, for instance, has primarily focused on women who sold sex and on men who either paid for sexual services or who facilitated the trade. Local authorities and non-state actors who contributed to policymaking neglected, in other words, all other forms of commercial sex, which were often deeply entangled with the burgeoning hospitality industry that catered homosexual men and women alike. Even though policymakers who supported the regulationist system (until 1948) and the ‘unregulated tolerance’ that characterised the post-1948 abolitionist period tacitly treated prostitution as a form of work, they barely paid attention to male and trans commercial sex.
Next to the top-down analysis, this paper wishes to provide a comparative analysis of women and men who exchanged sex for money or material goods in Belgian cities. Based on primary sources (archival material, autobiographies, press articles…) and secondary literature on the history of homosexuality and prostitution, I will analyse their social profiles, working and living conditions, and self-perception. Although direct evidence on the self-perception of subaltern groups is rather scarce, I believe that an against the grain reading of sources permits us to say something meaningful about sellers of sex’s views on prostitution and work in general. As such, this paper aims to contribute to recent scholarly debates on ‘free’ or ‘legitimate’ and ‘unfree’ or ‘illegitimate’ labour and the role played by morality and degeneration theories on the categorisation of income-generating activities as ‘work’ or ‘non-work’. (Show less)
Nicola Schalkowski :
Domestic Servitude: (In)visibility of Coercive and Violent Labour Relations in Peru
On the basis of qualitive interviews with organised domestic workers in Peru, this empirical case study focuses on coercive and violent labour practices in the household. A sociological approach conceptualising the labour relationship as a relation of domination under the term servitude is proposed in order to further develop an ... (Show more)
On the basis of qualitive interviews with organised domestic workers in Peru, this empirical case study focuses on coercive and violent labour practices in the household. A sociological approach conceptualising the labour relationship as a relation of domination under the term servitude is proposed in order to further develop an instrument of analysis. This paper aims at contributing to the conceptual discussion on "unfree" forms of labour, by not only expanding the empirical knowledge base in an understudied context (household labour). Rather, it proposes a socio-cultural methodological approach that goes beyond the phenomenon of the dichotomous distinction free/unfree and its exclusive categorical description (e.g. as ‘forced labour’ by the International Labour Organisation). The approach is derived from Orlando Patterson’s historical sociological analysis of slavery as a specific form of domination. This perspective makes it possible to go beyond economic logics of labour exploitation and makes coercive and violent labour practices in different dimensions describable. (Show less)