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Class, Contention, and a World in Motion

Class, Contention, and a World in Motion

Winnie Lem
Pauline Gardiner Barber
Series: Dislocations
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 246
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  • Book Info
    Class, Contention, and a World in Motion
    Book Description:

    Prevailing scholarship on migration tends to present migrants as the objects of history, subjected to abstract global forces or to concrete forms of regulation imposed by state and supra state organizations. In this volume, by contrast, the focus is on migrants as the subjects of history who not only react but also act to engage with and transform their worlds. Using ethnographic examples from Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and the Middle East, contributors question how and why particular forms of political struggle and collective action may, or indeed may not, be carried forward in the context of geographic and social border crossings. In doing so, they bring the dynamic relationship between class, gender, and culture to the forefront in each distinctive migration setting.

    eISBN: 978-1-84545-840-9
    Subjects: Anthropology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-20)
    Winnie Lem and Pauline Gardiner Barber

    This book brings together the work of scholars who are concerned with illuminating the relationship between capitalist transformation and the configurations of class in global migration. The contemporary dynamics of transformation under capitalism tend to be encapsulated by the overused but nonetheless apposite gloss of globalization. Globalization encodes the multiple and varied social, economic, political, as well as cultural processes through which nation-states are traversed and weakened. Contemporary migration is itself deeply implicated in globalization as both a product and part of this process. This book therefore focuses on migrants both as subjects of and participants in the processes of...

  5. Part I Configurations of Class

    • Chapter 1 Livelihood and Afghan Refugee Workers in Iran
      (pp. 23-40)
      Wenona Giles

      In many parts of the world today, refugees work illegally in vulnerable types of jobs that pay low wages. Tied to specific locations for extended periods, they are among the most precarious workers globally. It is difficult to say which group—those within refugee camps or without—is worse off. Both groups of refugees confront continuing processes of imperialism and “empirism” manifest in the geopolitics of their home and “host” countries. However, the geopolitical and spatial separation that exists in the world today conceals the fact that many refugees are also workers. The relationship between forced exile and the international...

    • Chapter 2 New Mexican Migrants in a New Age: Globalization, Networks, and Gender in Rural Mexico
      (pp. 41-57)
      Frances Abrahamer Rothstein

      On 1 January 1994 the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between Mexico, Canada, and the United States went into effect, eliminating tariffs on many products (some immediately and others over a ten-year period) and lifting investment restrictions on foreign investment. Despite the expectation, at least on the part of policymakers, that Mexican migration to the United States would be reduced by NAFTA, migration from Mexico is greater than ever before (Escobar Latapí and Martin 2006). Recent research also suggests that this growth is accompanied by a broadening and diversification of who comes, from where, and to where they go....

    • Chapter 3 The State and Mobile People at the US-Mexico Border
      (pp. 58-78)
      Josiah Heyman

      Migration has long played a central role in the assembling of labor forces, both proletarian and slaves/indentured servants. Through the twentieth and into the twenty-first century, increasingly complex and closely enforced rules of movement and residence have produced an important series of subdivisions among working people, between citizen, legal migrant, guest worker, and unauthorized migrant. How do these relationships to the state affect class relations? It is useful to approach this question from two ends, comparing the effects on class of favored status, citizenship, and highly disfavored status, illegality (following Heyman 1998; DeGenova 2002). Much like Giles in chapter 1,...

  6. Part II Migrants and Mobilization

    • Chapter 4 Political Engagement and Latin Americans in the UK
      (pp. 81-104)
      Davide Però

      Drawing on fieldwork conducted among Latin American migrants in London in 2005 and 2006, this chapter seeks to respond to recent calls from within anthropology for a greater disciplinary engagement with collective action and social movements (Escobar 1992; Edelman 2001; Gibb 2001; Nash 2005), a topic that, in relation to migrants, has received very little attention (Però 2005a).¹ This response is here articulated not so much by engaging with the prevailing social theories on the collective action of migrants, something I have done elsewhere (Però 2007a), but by juxtaposing migrants’ needs and mobilization to the ongoing British and, to an...

    • Chapter 5 Gender and Resisting Fortress Europe in Italy and Spain
      (pp. 105-124)
      Elisabetta Zontini

      Today we are witnessing the consolidation of a “Fortress Europe” whereby stricter rules are passed in all of the member states to “protect” them from what public opinion and policymakers perceive as waves of “dangerous” third-country immigrants threatening the stability of a supposedly ethno-culturally homogeneous Europe (Stolke 1995; see also Lem, chapter 8). Whereas internal borders within the EU have been progressively lifted and previous “aliens,” such as Southern Europeans, are becoming accepted in northern countries, external European borders have become tougher, separating Europe from its Third World “others” (Shore 2000). After a period of regulated immigration following the WWII,...

    • Chapter 6 Gender, History, and Political Activism in Spain
      (pp. 125-137)
      Susana Narotzky

      This chapter will center on two life histories of women workers with migratory experiences during the same historical period but whose local historical and personal contexts were extremely distinct and provided different conditions of possibility for class resistance and activism. The object of the article is to show how material economic conditions and the production of coherence in personal experience explain the greater or lesser presence of political activism, and the particular form that it takes, locally.

      As a theoretical framework I will be using Pierre Bourdieu’s idea of “habitus” and its incorporation as durable dispositions, as it is applied...

    • Chapter 7 Cell Phones, Politics, and the Philippine Labor Diaspora
      (pp. 138-160)
      Pauline Gardiner Barber

      Seventy percent of the nearly one million documented labor migrants leaving the Philippines each year are women who work in service sector jobs. But in 2004 Dr. Elmer Jacinto became yet another Filipino labor migrant to make international headlines. This was not, as has often been the case for women migrants, because he was “victimized” working abroad, but because of his decision to relocate and deliberately, if temporarily, deskill his labor.¹ As the year’s top-ranked medical graduate he refueled the long-standing national debates over migration politics when he declared his intention of traveling to the United States to pursue a...

  7. Part III Complicity and Compliance

    • Chapter 8 Making Neoliberal Citizens in Urban France
      (pp. 163-184)
      Winnie Lem

      In the fall of 2005 and spring of 2006 the urban landscape of France was punctuated by a series of conflicts. In March and early April 2006, high school and university students took to the streets. The centers of cities were occupied, roads were blocked, university buildings were seized, and property, both public and private was destroyed. French youth, as it was widely reported in the international press, were provoked into action to contest the implementation of the CPE or Contrat Premier Embauche (First Employment Contract), a measure introduced by the government to deregulate the labor market. Their protests and...

    • Chapter 9 A Clash of Histories in Canada’s Auto Industry
      (pp. 185-204)
      Belinda Leach

      In countries with histories of immigration, class formation is deeply entwined with processes of racialization, debates and practices around citizenship, contested constructions of skill and professional credentials, and cultural expectations of gender and ethnicity. The relative significance and treatment of these varies, according to economic swings, technological developments, labor market demands, and ensuing generous or ungenerous entrance policies.

      In this chapter I try to think through some of the implications of encounters between immigrant and non-immigrant¹ workers in the workplace. For countries with sizeable immigrant populations and restructuring economies like Canada, immigrants are often perceived by more-established workers as competing...

    • Chapter 10 Mexican Worker Demobilization and the Global Economy
      (pp. 205-224)
      Marie France Labrecque

      As I was conducting research on maquiladoras in the state of Yucatán between 1995 and 2005, I found the lack of worker mobilization and the invisibility of unions in the maquiladora sector rather baffling. Part of an explanation for this state of affairs has been provided by specialists on the issue in Yucatán, such as Beatriz Castilla Ramos and Beatriz Torres Góngora (2007: 53–54), who have shown how Taylorism has gradually been supplanted in maquiladoras by new forms of work organization (NFWO). In their view these NFWOs have helped to create a new figure of the worker that is...

  8. List of Contributors
    (pp. 225-228)
  9. Index
    (pp. 229-240)