On Wednesday 11 January 2017, the University of Exeter and the TUC’s European Union and International Relations Department will host a public conference at Congress House, London. To register for this event please visit the Eventbrite page for the conference. The event is free to attend and all are welcome but space is limited.
The EU referendum has brought to the fore debates concerning the effects of globalization, migration and casual or ‘precarious’ labour in twenty-first century Britain. These issues are not limited to the U.K., however. Over the course of the past three decades the dominance of neo-liberal economics, and the associated processes of privatisation and de-regulation, have contributed to widening inequality and a decline in formal sector employment across the globe. For organised labour movements these pressures have brought ever greater challenges, as trade unions have fought to resist the erosion of hard won labour rights and protect the living standards of their members. On these issues trade unions have won some notable victories but it is clear that further challenges lie ahead.
Indeed, for all neo-liberalism’s dominance over the past thirty years, the world finds itself at a crossroads. The 2008 financial crash; the debt and migration crises within Europe; the election of Donald Trump and rise of protectionism in the United States; and Brexit have all served to shake the foundations of the established global order. In turn, these events have led to a polarised debate between those who favour a renewed push for ever-greater levels of global inter-dependence and those that advocate a return to economic nationalism. For trade unions the challenge is not to allow this uncertainty to accelerate recent changes within the labour market, particularly with regard to the exploitation of migrants and undercutting of existing workforces, the rise of precarious labour and the imposition of stricter trade union laws. Instead trade unions should continue their active role in shaping debates about the deleterious effects of casualization and the infringement of labour rights by both states and employers.
Trump’s election is an equivocal ‘victory for white supremacy’, and justified cause for fear to circulate among people of Colour living in Anglo-dominated nations. Yet history has seen other global upsurges in nationalist white supremacism, other times when fear and hope have made strange but productive bedfellows.
The 19th Century was the trans-imperial ‘age of mobility’. And it saw Melbourne become home to heterogeneous populations. By the time the Australian colonies united as a ‘white nation’ in 1901, a long history of migration connected Melbourne with global locales, from Punjab to Karachi, Canton to Hong Kong, Leicester to Oslo.
Not only did Chinese migrants spread from southern provinces of Canton across the Pacific Rim, but so too did Indians, Afghans and Syrians migrate across borders internal to what is today known as South Asia. This included those highly permeable borders that demarcated Syria (part of the Ottoman Empire), the Emirate of Afghanistan (a buffer between the Russian and British Empires) and India (part of the British Empire). Many also ended up in Melbourne, the capital city of the Australian colony of Victoria. Continue reading “The Contradictions of White Nationalism in a Global Age: Lessons from Early 20th Century Melbourne”→
Centre Director Andrew Thompson explains that if globalization is not to silence the past, we need to delve back into its history – its imperial history.
‘Globalization’ is among the biggest intellectual challenges facing the humanities and the social sciences today. It is a concept that conveys the sense that we are living in an age of transformation, where change is the only constant, nothing can be taken for granted, and no-one knows what the future might bring. But globalization is also much more than that. To borrow the phrase of the historical sociologist, Mike Savage, it is an ‘epoch description’, something that seeks to define for the current generation the very meaning of social change. By thinking of ourselves as part of a globalized world, we are saying something about how over time our identity has changed. We are locating ourselves in time, differentiating ourselves from our predecessors, signalling a break with what went before. Continue reading “Imperial Globalization – The Presence of the Past and the Crucible of Empire”→
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