NALSU Seminar/Webinar :Mattie Webb, University of California: "Beyond the Workplace: Black Workers' Internationalism and Union Struggles against Apartheid in American Multi-Nationals"

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Mattie Webb Seminar/Webinar
Mattie Webb Seminar/Webinar

SEMINAR & WEBINAR: Tuesday , 18 October 2022 4pm, at Eden Grove Blue and online via Zoom (details below).


THE PAPER: Studies of trade unionists in the global anti-apartheid movement centre the role of South Africans in advocating for worker rights. However, workers remain largely absent from histories of the foreign policy of American corporations operating in South Africa. This talk seeks to remedy this, challenging state-centric narratives of the foreign policy of the United States of America by viewing South African workers as internationalists.
Centering the knowledge production and lived experiences of black workers, this presentation tells a more complete story of how corporate reforms, such as the Sullivan Principles, unfolded on the ground in South Africa. Oral historical and archival research conducted in the United States and South Africa reveals that workers leveraged their positions on the shopfloor to influence both local and international policies, including participation in and intellectual contributions to corporate social responsibility initiatives.

SPEAKER: Mattie Webb is a Ph.D. candidate in the History Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her dissertation, entitled "Diplomacy at Work: The South African Worker and the Sullivan Principles on the Shop Floor, 1972-1987," examines the impact and awareness of workplace codes of conduct endorsed by U.S. multinational corporations operating in South Africa during the apartheid era. She has published her work in "Ethnic Studies Review" and "The Washington Post," among others. Mattie recently completed a Fulbright in South Africa, where she was based at the Neil Aggett Labour Studies Unit (NALSU).

JOINING: Please register in advance by going to: 
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining.

Some DATA available for people outside Rhodes. Apply / 072 183 6632 in advance.

HOSTS: The series is run by the Neil Aggett Labour Studies Unit (NALSU) in partnership with the Departments of Sociology & Industrial Sociology, and Economics & Economic History, Rhodes University and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES).

NALSU, based in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, is engaged in policy, research and workers' education. Built around a vibrant team from disciplines including Sociology and Economics & Economic History, it has active partnerships and relations with a range of advocacy, labour and research organisations. It draws strength from its location in a province where the legacy of apartheid and the cheap labour system, and the contradictions of the post-apartheid state, are keenly felt. We are named in honour of Dr Neil Hudson Aggett, a union organiser and medical doctor who died in 1982 in an apartheid jail after enduring brutality and torture.

Source:  NALSU