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Simpson Center Workshop: Subaltern Lifeworlds in Urban and Rural Informal Economies in India

Posted: 11/28/2017 (Local Events)

For a Poetics of Subaltern Life-Worlds: New Research, New Imaginaries of Informal Economies in Contemporary India

December 1-2, 2017

More than ninety percent of India’s workforce finds uncertain livelihoods through informal work: agricultural labor, construction, street vending, transportation, waste picking, sex work, and domestic labor, to name but a few. While the employment challenge—10 million jobs a year—that confronts countries like India is humbling, the existing scholarship in fields like labor studies, urban geography, rural sociology, and feminist studies has been resolutely economistic. With few exceptions, it has had little to say about the experiences, life-making activities (poïesis), and desires of the men and women, many from historically subordinated caste groups, who toil in India’s cities even as they remain enmeshed with ongoing lives in their villages.

This workshop brings together researchers in the US and India who are breaking new ground in how to think about the contours of informal economies in India and beyond. We call for a radically new intellectual approach to the life-worlds of denizens of informal economies: specifically, a humanistic approach that does not take for granted commonly employed dualisms such as formal and informal, urban and rural, and production and reproduction.

1. Interiority of selfhood
2. Habitations of time and space
3. Entanglements of production and reproduction
4. Mutual imprint of the country and the city

The workshop includes comparative analyses of informality in the US, South Korea, and China. It concludes with a session on public scholarship and technologies of communication to communicate our research to concerned communities effectively. We plan to publish public-minded online essays after the workshop.

Schedule, speaker bios, and more information at the link below.


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Location: Communications Building, 202