New World Disorder

Crisis, Conflicts and Transformations of Class Struggles

This stream aims at analyzing the ongoing global crisis from the vantage point of the conflicting responses engendered by the crisis itself in the dynamics of class struggles.

Such a crisis, which is structural and systemic in nature, has brought fragmentation processes from the top – privatizations, offshoring, precarization of the workforce, destruction of the welfare state, fall of labor cost, identitary polarizations etc. – to an unprecedented level. In response to this trend, several efforts to contrast from below the very same processes have emerged over the last few years and sought to radicalize traditional forms of struggle, infuse them with a new meaning and experiment new tools for organizing social conflicts.

The stream is interested in papers that address the following themes:

a) Mapping Global Crisis in Space and Time

The global crisis is noticeably an uneven phenomenon, both in space and time. On the one hand, the different economical collapses and their effects are geographically diversified, as much as the responses they trigger. On the other hand, the emergence and deepening of new conflicts do not proceed in a synchronized and coherent manner, as they are instead often asymmetrical and discontinuous. This session encourages contributions involving theoretical (especially economical) analyses focused on the heterogeneous and discontinuous character of such processes and on possible connections between the various epicenters of the crisis.

b) Geopolitics of Conflicts: The Unmaking of the World Working Class?

In contexts that are chronically plagued by wars and imperialist interventions (i.e. Africa and the Middle East) the social and economical origin of conflicts tends to disappear in geopolitical analyses, giving way to the explanatory pattern based on religious and ethnic tensions. The session solicits papers exploring the possibility of centering anew the master narrative of what could be defined as the “balkanization of class struggle” by proposing interpretations capable of jointly giving account of class, racial, ethnic and religious issues.

c) Unionisms: New Movements, Old Struggles

While in the traditional economic sectors of the Global North (industry and the service sector) trade-unions seem to be on the wane, they represent on the contrary an emerging and developing reality in other parts of the world. The unionization of domestic workers in South America and Asia, maquiladora unions, inter-union conflicts in South Africa, the fight of Foxconn Chinese workers and of Egyptian workers to build their own, independent unions but also some cooperative experiences in Europe, are all examples of this phenomenon. The session welcomes papers analyzing the most significant and recent developments in the labor movement on a global scale.

d) Women in the Global Market and the Feminization of Work

Globalization has radically transformed the gender composition of living labor power throughout the world, with different impacts in terms of weight and nature in the two hemispheres. This session welcomes papers reflecting on the role of women in the international division of labor (home work, factory work, care work etc.) and on the so-called “feminization of work”.

e) Migrant Labor, Modern slavery? A Laboratory of Global Exploitation

Migrant labor, in Europe as everywhere else, is normally deeply subaltern. In the Global North, its extreme precarization in sectors such as agriculture, logistics, the construction industry and care work signals not only the conditions particular to a marginal group of wage-earners but also the unstable boundary of over-exploitation, which is now also threatening more “protected” workers. This session encourages contributions reflecting on the role of the “reserve army” of migrant labor in the global market, focusing also on the impact of gender and racial issues in the composition of the new working class.

f) Strikes, Blockades, and Workers’ Self-Management

Over the last few years we have witnessed to the comeback of some traditional tools of class struggle: strikes, pickets, blockades of production and circulation of goods, self-management. Some examples of this revival are the fast-food strikes in the United States, the mobilizations of South African miners, the logistics warehouse workers’ struggles in Italy and the experiences of self-management in South American, Greek, French and Italian factories. This session solicits papers analyzing these struggles in connection with the new forms taken by the organization of labor, the new productive sectors where they have arisen and the new characteristics of the subjectivities involved.

Keywords

Theories of Crisis and Praxis of Conflicts

Global War, Imperialism and Class Struggles

Unionism: New Movements, Old Struggles

Circulation and Logistics

Strikes, Blockades, and Workers’ Self-Management

Feminisation of Labour

Migrant Labour