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Labour, Land, and Livelihoods in Crisis: New Conversations on the Future of work
This two-day event (June 10-11, 2022) made a timely intervention in conversations on the future of work and inequality in South Africa by placing these debates within the context of the interlinked challenges of under/unemployment, livelihoods, and worker organization. The culmination of a year-long collaboration between the Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice and the Labour, Development and Governance Unit at the University of Cape Town Faculty of Law, the event brought together a diverse set of participants from a variety of contexts, including academics, land reform activists, labour organizers, policy makers, and public commentators, to consider the past, present, and future of work and livelihoods in South Africa, and to generate much-needed responses that can productively confront uneven power relations and entrenched forms of racialized and gendered economic marginality.

Past Events

2021 Speaker Series

Our Fall 2021 Colloquium, “Inequality, Labor, and Human Rights: The Future of Work in the Age of the Pandemic” features five distinguished scholars from law, sociology, geography, and political theory will explore a variety of sites to consider how the valuation of productive labor allocates resources in ways that maintain and reproduce historical patterns of racialized and gendered domination, subordination, and accumulation. Together, the speakers will introduce new possibilities for thinking beyond productive value and formal work to generate more equitable imaginaries of work and livelihood.

2020 Speaker Series

This multidisciplinary speaker series explored a range of geographies and types of work in the context of racialized global capitalism – from women’s unpaid domestic work in India and prison labor in the United States to the warehouse work that is key to many global supply chains. Speakers and respondents included economists, legal scholars, historians, sociologists, and geographers who interpret large-scale macroeconomic trends, conduct archival research, trace the distributive and racialized effects of often backgrounded legal rules, and use creative ethnographic methods.

COVID-19, Structural Inequality, and the Future of Low-Income Latinx Construction Workers in Austin

Co-sponsored by the Rapoport Center, the Dell Medical School, the Opportunity Forum, and the Workers Defense Project, this Jan 20201 roundtable brought together academics, local political representatives, labor organizers, and researchers to discuss the Center’s  2020 report on the legal and political drivers behind the disproportionate effects of COVID-19 on low-income Latinx construction workers in the Austin area. The event also featured responses to the report, with a focus on Austin’s accelerating urban growth and its impact on social determinants of health and worker organizing. Speakers at this event included Gregorio Casar, Austin City Council Member and Emily Timm, Co-founder and Co-executive Director, Workers Defense Project.

“Year of the Tiger” Virtual Performance and Talkback

The play, written by Khristián Méndez Aguirrem used interviews with workers impacted by the pandemic, viral videos, official declarations, and the character of a tiger to explore some of the impacts of COVID-19. The talkback included responses by Anne Lewis and Álvaro Restrepo, Co-Founder, El Colegio Del Cuerpo, Cartagena de Indias, Colombia.