The Rapoport Center and the Harvard Institute for Global Law and Policy have gathered a team of international and interdisciplinary scholars over the past year for a book project rethinking the future of work through methods of racial capitalism, world-systems, and critiques of distribution. This panel highlights case studies from the book about precarity, in sites ranging from the Austin construction and Vermont dairy industries in the U.S. to Jordanian apparel factories and Colombian palm plantations.
- 0:00 Introduction
- 0:50 Panel begins
- 11:26 – 12:40 Kerry Rittich argues that if labor law exists to make work better for workers, it is failing miserably at this task. She argues that we need to reimagine the law of work, what it is, what it is for, and where we might find it. In addition, labor law needs to be more responsive to the insights of racial capitalism and world-systems theory to better analyze the distribution of risk, power, and resources.
- 19:37 – 21:44 Helena Alviar Garciá discusses the history and patterns of inequality in Colombia, and describes how recent uprisings in Colombia were triggered by a tax reform designed to impact mostly middle and working class people.
- 23:33 – 24:04 Helena Alviar Garciá notes the racialized nature of palm oil labor in the region of Chocó, Colombia, where the population is mostly Afro-Colombian. She argues that this dynamic illuminates how racial capitalism works through the deployment of racialized bodies to extract resources in the region.
- 29:47 – 31:04 Karen Engle locates the precarity experienced by Austin-area construction workers the city’s characterization as a progressive boom town. She explains how money was allocated towards the development of a new Tesla plant during the COVID-19 pandemic in the context of inadequate support for low income communities, and emphasizes the distributive consequences of labor laws.
- 32:31 – 34:23 Samuel Tabory describes Austin’s pro-business, pro-development climate and argues that corporate actors bear little responsibility for urban and regional social reproduction.
- 40:00 – 42:03 Jennifer Gordon explores the racialized and gendered assumptions which underpinned an attempt to put Syrian refugees to work in Jordan’s export processing industry. She argues that these assumptions contrasted sharply with on-the-ground realities of manufacturing work.
- 1:08:41 – 1:10:02 Jennifer Bair highlights the work of migrant and economic justice activists in Vermont’s dairy industry, and the various supply chain related challenges that shape efforts to improve working conditions.