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Public Lecture: The Labouring Subject of Refugee Economies

November 20, 2017 at 2:30 PM to 4:30 PM

Location:214 Residence Commons

Public Lecture: The Labouring Subject of Refugee Economies

Prof Ranabir Samaddar, Distinguished Chair in Migration and Forced Migration Studies, Calcutta Research Group

Most writings on refugee economy or the immigrant economy refer to changes in the immigrant labour absorption policies of the Western governments. In these writings the refugee economy or the immigrant economy never features directly; refugees are seen as economic actors in the marketBut we do not get a full picture of why capitalism in late twentieth or early twenty first century needs these refugee or immigrant labour as economic actors. The organic link between the immigrant as an economic actor and the global capitalist economy seems to escape the analysis in these writings. Yet, if immigration policies produce precarious labour, this has general significance for the task of theorising the migrant as living labour. The question of the production of living labour is important because it puts in a critical perspective the necessity of the states and the international regime of protection to synchronise the economic and the political strategies of protection. Yet the disjuncture between the two strategies of protection is not only typical of the postcolonial parts of the globe, the disjuncture is evident in the developed countries. Globally, one can say, capital sets in motion movements of labour within a specific field of force that dictates how and why migrant labour is to be harnessed, disciplined, and governed (for instance the dominant presence of immigrant labour in logistics, health care, agriculture, etc.), and that shapes the links between “strategies” (that control migrants once they are in motion) and the mechanisms that set these movements in motion.