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​After Labour by Professor Jean Comaroff and Professor John Comaroff (31 Oct 2019)

Published on: 15-Oct-2019

NTU Institute of Science and Technology for Humanity (NISTH) and School of Social Sciences are jointly organising a seminar on 'After Labour' by Professor Jean Comaroff and Professor John Comaroff on 31 October 2019, 2:00pm – 3:00pm, at the HSS Seminar Room 3, (HSS-B1-10).

Concern has been steadily mounting across the globe that wage work is disappearing. Yet there is little agreement about how, why, where, or in what measure. Or what might take its place in the future. Why do we – scholars, politicians, people at large – seem unable to think beyond a universe founded on mass employment? After all, capital has always striven to free itself, as far as possible, of a dependency on labor. Further, as is now widely recognized, more people have always been wageless than waged.  But if mass employment has always been threatened by erasure, why does it remain so central both to popular and theoretical understandings of life under capitalism – all the more so amidst anxieties about its imminent demise? What exactly is unique about the present moment? As we fail to imagine an age after labor, we seem ever more haunted by nightmares of our own redundancy, by surreal images of a world in which value is produced by other means: not merely by finance or AI, but by workers who are simultaneously human-and-nonhuman, living-and-dead, present-and-absent,

What does this tell us about the afterlife of homo faber? Might we enrich our answers to these questions by moving beyond the Archimedean vantage of Euro-America? The latter may be the source of so much of our theory-work. But a comprehensive grasp of global capitalism surely must embrace the historic engagement of the Euromodern world with its various outsides, often the source of accumulation at its most primitive, and labor in its most precarious It is a story in which the North seems to be reliving the experience of the South – re the nature of work, as in many other, respects.

To register, click here.

About Professor Jean Comaroff

Jean Comaroff is the Alfred North Whitehead Professor of African and African American Studies and Anthropology at Harvard University, and Honorary Professor at the University of Cape Town. She was educated at the University of Cape Town and the London School of Economics. Until 2012, she was the Bernard E. and Ellen C. Sunny Distinguished Service Professor of Anthropology, and Director of the Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory. Her research, primarily conducted in southern Africa, has focused on the interplay of capitalism, modernity, and colonialism, the politics of knowledge and the nature of sovereignty, and theorizing the contemporary world from beyond its centers. Her writing has covered a range of more specific topics: religion and ritual, medicine and magic, law, and crime, democracy and difference. Publications include Body of Power, Spirit of Resistance: the Culture and History of a South African People (1985), "Beyond the Politics of Bare Life: AIDS and the Global Order" (2007); and, with John L. Comaroff, Of Revelation and Revolution (vols. l [1991] and ll [1997]); Ethnography and the Historical Imagination (1992); Millennial Capitalism and the Culture of Neoliberalism (2000),  Law and Disorder in the Postcolony (2006), Ethnicity, Inc. (2009),Theory from the South, or How Euro-America is Evolving Toward Africa (2011), The Truth About Crime: Sovereignty, Knowledge, Social Order (2016) and The Politics of Custom: Chiefship, Capital, and the State in Contemporary Africa (2018).

About Professor John Comaroff

John Comaroff is Hugh K. Foster Professor of African and African American Studies and of Anthropology, and an Oppenheimer Research Fellow, at Harvard University. His authored and edited books include, with Jean Comaroff, Of Revelation and Revolution (2 vols), Ethnography and the Historical Imagination, Modernity and its Malcontents, Civil Society and the Political Imagination in Africa, Millennial Capitalism and the Culture of Neoliberalism, Law and Disorder in the Postcolony, Ethnicity, Inc., Zombi s et fronti res à ère neoliberale, Theory from the South: or, how Euro-America is evolving toward Africa, The Truth about Crime, and The Politics of Custom: Chiefship, Capital, and the State in Contemporary Africa.

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