In his paper, Dr Paul Apostolidis (Departments of Government and Education, London School of Economics) argues for the political and critical value of re-conceptualizing class today through the lens of precarity.
The present conjuncture makes this an opportune moment to reconsider the notion of class – the resurgence and rebuffs of the socialist left in US and British electoral politics, the increasing hold of right-wing populism on class- and race-diverse constituencies in both countries, the intensification of anti-racist activism, the disparities exposed by the pandemic but also the demands it has raised for welfarist social solidarity.
As an ensemble of protocols that constitute subjects through work, precaritisation provides a way of seeing class that brings into focus its racial striations as well as its features of socioeconomic hierarchy, exploitation and oppression.
In addition, viewing class through the lens of precarity clarifies how these processes of group differentiation combine with generalised power-dynamics that subject all to systemic domination. Paul’s analysis emphasises subject-forming experiences of time, technology and embodiment in everyday working life as manifested in three types of racialised precarious work: day labour, warehouse work and digital ‘free’ labour. Looking especially at Latinx migrant labour in the US, he explore interactions between work processes, deportation and eco-racism from the siting of migrant work in zones of environmental disaster, degradation and disease. Methodologically, the paper argues for re-articulating critical-theoretical concepts such as class and precarity in active dialogue with subaltern communities.
About the speaker
Paul Apostolidis is the author of The Fight for Time: Migrant Day Laborers and the Politics of Precarity (Oxford University Press 2019), Breaks in the Chain: What Immigrant Workers Can Teach America about Democracy (University of Minnesota Press, 2010), and Stations of the Cross: Adorno and Christian Right Radio (Duke University Press, 2000), as well as co-editor of Public Affairs: Politics in the Age of Sex Scandals (Duke University Press, 2004). He serves on the executive editorial board for the journal Political Theory and specializes in integrating empirical field research with migrant workers into political and critical theory. Prior to joining LSE’s Government Department in 2019 he taught for 22 years at Whitman College in Washington State, USA, where he held the T. Paul Chair of Political Science. Dr Apostolidis received his PhD and MA from Cornell University, and his and his BA from Princeton University.
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