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Wednesday 16th May 2018

The Labour Studies Seminar Series, in partnership with Wits University Press, will launch “Crossing the Divide: Precarious Work and the Future of Labour ” edited by Edward Webster, Akua Opokua Britwum and Sharit Bhowmik.

Speaker: Prof Edward Webster

Time: 4:15pm

Venue: Eden Grove Seminar Room 2

The series is run by the Neil Aggett Labour Studies Unit (NALSU) and the Departments of Sociology, History, and Economics and Economic History.

THE BOOK: Massive, growing inequality marks twenty-first century neo-liberal capitalism. It is reinforced by widespread erosion of unions, the growth of home-based and precarious work, rising unemployment and the difficulty of organising sectors like agriculture and domestic work. Work-related insecurities and vulnerability induced by neo-liberalism affect massive numbers of people worldwide. “Crossing the Divide”, edited by leading labour scholars Akua O. Britwum (Ghana), Eddie Webster (South Africa) and the late Sharit Bhowmik (India), brings together a rich body of predominantly ethnographic studies of the experiences and resistance of vulnerable workers. Other contributors include Angela Akorsu, Owusa Boampong, Malati Gadgil, Indira Gartenberg, Carmen Ludwig, Mbuso Nkosi, Amanda Odoi, Melanie Samson, Benjamin Tachi, Mouleshri Vyas and Jesse Wilderman.

Together they uncover the world of the informal economy and vulnerable workers. “Crossing the Divide” reveals how the history and legacy of colonialism is shaping the response of the Global South in distinctive ways. Comparing precarious work in India, Ghana and South Africa, this book examines innovative organisational strategies that are emerging to bridge the widening divide between the formal and informal economy. Farm workers in Ghana, India and South Africa are challenging colonial-type work practices. Municipal workers in Johannesburg and Accra are organising. Workers in domestic service, unregulated factories and home-based work are engaging in creative strategies to fight for decent work and living conditions. Informal workers are not passive victims but are building new forms of collective solidarity to promote their rights and interests.

THE EDITORS: Eddie Webster is Professor Emeritus in the Society, Work and Development Institute (SWOP), which he founded as the Sociology of Work Programme in 1983 at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits). Generally regarded as the father of modern South African labour studies, and a Rhodes University graduate, his contributions span worker education, worker-focused research, union organising, university-based teaching, eight books and hundreds of papers and reports. Recipient of international awards and honorary appointments, a leading figure in national and international sociological associations, and the Global Labour University, he was recently awarded honorary doctorates by Rhodes University and Wits.

Akua Opokua Britwum is Associate Professor at the Centre for Gender Research, Advocacy and Documentation (CEGRAD) at the University of Cape Coast, Ghana. Her publications cover gender-based violence, gender and economic participation, trade union democracy, and labour force organisation in the informal economy.

 The late Professor Sharit Bhowmik was Chairperson of the Centre for Labour Studies at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India. He engaged in labour studies throughout his working life, with a particular interest in plantation labour and informal work, and worked with generations of worker and union activists. Part of the Subgroup on Plantation Labour of the National Advisory Committee in India and the Expert Committee on Street Vendors in Mumbai, and an associate of Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO), he passed away in 2016 and is greatly missed.

Books will be on sale from Van Schaiks Bookstore at a discounted price of R283.50

Card facilities available

3 copies of the book will be raffled!!!


Monday 21 May 2018



Presented by: Prof Shi Guoqing and Dr Zhang Xiaochen, National Research Center for Resettlement, Hohai University, China




Time: 12h30 to 14h00


Venue: Faculty of Humanities Seminar Room, 1 Prince Alfred Street


Since the 1980s, China has built up   a range of policies increasingly oriented to the active economic improvement of people resettled by "development projects", as opposed to the more widespread mere compensation-oriented resettlement policies that have prevailed across the world. This relates to resettlement arising out of dam-related, as well out of other kinds of "development" projects, such as agriculture, housing, mining, transport.


The National Research Center for Resettlement - which teaches the only undergraduate and postgraduate degrees on development-induced resettlement (DIR) in the world- has been centrally involved in the study of DIR in China, and with policy issues and recommendations relating to it, for several decades.  It is a key player in the international discussions and debates about international and national formation of policy relating to development-induced resettlement.   Dam building has been on the increase across Africa and Asia since the turn of the millennium.


This seminar, which will bring insights from the Chinese social science and policy experience of the last three decades in the hydropower sector, will be of direct relevance to us in Southern Africa, as we seek to develop our own understanding of how best to work with the sub-continent wide problems of water access, in the context of climate change and growing human movement across southern Africa .







Last Modified: Thu, 10 May 2018 15:31:39 SAST