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Blood and Fire

Blood and Fire: Toward a Global Anthropology of Labor

Sharryn Kasmir
August Carbonella
Series: Dislocations
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 306
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  • Book Info
    Blood and Fire
    Book Description:

    Based on long-term fieldwork, six vivid ethnographies from Colombia, India, Poland, Spain and the southern and northern U.S. address the dwindling importance of labor throughout the world. The contributors to this volume highlight the growing disconnect between labor struggles and the advancement of the greater common good, a phenomenon that has grown since the 1980s. The collection illustrates the defeat and unmaking of particular working classes, and it develops a comparative perspective on the uneven consequences of and reactions to this worldwide project.In Blood and Firecharts a course within global anthropology to address the widespread precariousness and the prevalence of insecure and informal labor in the twenty-first century.

    eISBN: 978-1-78238-364-2
    Subjects: Anthropology, Business, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. Introduction Toward a Global Anthropology of Labor
    (pp. 1-29)
    August Carbonella and Sharryn Kasmir

    Recent protests—from the Arab Spring, to the European revolts, to Occupy, to the mass demonstrations in Turkey and Brazil—galvanized worldwide attention, as people in many different places demanded rights to livelihood, a livable wage, education, state services, and democratic freedoms. After years of steady pronouncements in the mainstream media that free trade was the source of universal prosperity and liberty, the widespread evidence of social precariousness and political exclusion on display exposed the underbelly of neoliberal globalization usually hidden from view. As a result, the protests pushed the problem of social inequality and the idea of class from...

  5. Chapter 1 Fragmented Solidarity: Political Violence and Neoliberalism in Colombia
    (pp. 30-76)
    Lesley Gill

    As the flight from Bogotá to Barrancabermeja begins its descent into the steamy Middle Magdalena River valley, cattle ranches and African palm plantations emerge out of the haze, and herds of Zebu cattle appear as tiny white specks against the undulating green pastures below. Oil pipelines crisscross the valley’s alluvial plain, and the muddy waters of the Magdalena, laden with silt and the toxic effluence of the oil industry, churn northward to the Atlantic port of Barranquilla. The dark outline of the San Lucas mountains hovers over the western horizon. A few moments later, the sprawling refinery, wedged between the...

  6. Chapter 2 Labor in Place/Capitalism in Space: The Making and Unmaking of a Local Working Class on Maine’s “Paper Plantation”
    (pp. 77-122)
    August Carbonella

    In March 2011, Paul LePage, Maine’s newly elected Republican governor, ordered state workers to remove a recently installed mural honoring the history of the state’s working class from the lobby of the Department of Labor building. One of the mural’s panels portrayed the resolute solidarity that marked the 1987–1988 Paperworkers’ Strike at the International Paper Company’s (IP) Androscoggin Mill in Jay. It is likely that Governor LePage found this panel, representing as it did a bitterly protracted labor struggle that still stirred the passions of Maine’s citizens, to be among the most offensive images confronting “business leaders entering the...

  7. Chapter 3 Flexible Labor/Flexible Housing: The Rescaling of Mumbai into a Global Financial Center and the Fate of its Working Class
    (pp. 123-166)
    Judy Whitehead

    Mumbai’s redeveloped skyline over the past decade has led conservative commentators, such as Boris Johnston, the mayor of London, to herald Mumbai as an emerging Singapore, modern, spacious, and uncluttered. Yet the spatial reshaping of south and central Mumbai into a center of business and residential “excellence” hides a dramatic dispossession of the city’s industrial workers. This process involved double waves of dispossession over the past quarter century: the first involved the loss of stable industrial jobs, while the second comprises the “clearance” of former workers’ habitation. Mumbai led the way in India’s transition from Fordism to finance in India....

  8. Chapter 4 Structures without Soul and Immediate Struggles: Rethinking Militant Particularism in Contemporary Spain
    (pp. 167-202)
    Susana Narotzky

    This chapter examines the connection between the production in the present of memories of the past and the ability to frame present-day conflicts in relation to particular or universal claims and political projects. Through referring to past struggles and their outcomes, the process of framing will clarify what renders certain possibilities legitimate while excluding others. This connection between past and present realities, memories, and struggles will appear in the reading of past struggles in terms of heroism or defeat, and in the way of incorporating those memories into present-day struggles in positive or negative terms. These processes express interlinked and...

  9. Chapter 5 The Saturn Automobile Plant and the Long Dispossession of US Autoworkers
    (pp. 203-249)
    Sharryn Kasmir

    The Saturn automobile factory in Spring Hill, Tennessee, was one of three General Motors (GM) plants put on standby during the company’s bankruptcy reorganization in 2009. The decision to idle the plant—neither assuring it a short-term future, nor closing it permanently—was part of the restructuring plan orchestrated by the US government after it put up tens of billions of dollars in cash and loans and became the majority stakeholder in the company. At the time of the bankruptcy, fewer than half of the seventy-two hundred union autoworkers who had been employed just ten years earlier remained on the...

  10. Chapter 6 “Worthless Poles” and Other Dispossessions: Toward an Anthropology of Labor in Post-Communist Central and Eastern Europe
    (pp. 250-287)
    Don Kalb

    Many of the parameters of globalization that have been around for some three decades are shifting and turning dramatically since the collapse of the Western financial sector. This renders recent core concepts such as “neoliberalism” and the “Washington Consensus” less stable and illuminating than they once were, for policy as well as analysis. Nevertheless, few analysts would disagree that worker-citizens in contemporary transnationalizing states will inevitably continue to feel the competitive heat of the one billion new workers that have been added to the capitalist system since 1989, as well as the two billion that might be added in the...

  11. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 289-290)
  12. Index
    (pp. 291-298)