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School of Business and Management

They are Never Marginal to Power - Unfree Labour and Social

13 May 2015

Time: 5:30 - 7:30pm
Venue: Arts Two Lecture Theatre, Mile End Campus, London, E1 4NS

A Roundtable Discussion with Jairus Banaji, Elizabeth Esch, Nicholas De Genova, Rashné Limki and David Roediger.

What can the interaction of past and present tell us about the importance of unfree labour to social transformation? Who is and where are the ‘unfree’ in contemporary capitalism? How do past struggles of the unfree shape our understanding of the political possibilities of the present? Does the very framing of ‘unfree’ produce an elusive reality of consent for ‘free’ labour? 

Unfree labour while subjugated at the margins of society has simultaneously been the centre of change. The slave, the indentured, the immigrant and the undocumented, have all been the condition of possibility for the production not only of material wealth but also of ethical regimes of law and order, such as policing and securitisation. Yet the circumstance of unfreedom is also the space of resistance. How can we learn from different experiences across time and space to incite action today? 

Confronting the appearance of racial and sexual difference as it structures the history of capital, our Roundtable will explore the possibilities of using a historical analysis to understand the global present but also to interrogate how the intellectual and political tools of our present inform the production of our histories.

This event is free to attend, but please register your place at

Notes on Panel

Jairus Banaji is currently writing a short history of commercial capitalism. He works on agrarian political economy, historical materialism, and Late Antiquity & early Islam, and has worked with unions in India. He is Professorial Research Associate at SOAS, University of London.

Elizabeth Esch studies transnational histories, the critical study of race, and labour and working class history. She is Assistant Professor at the Department of American Studies University of Kansas.

Nicholas De Genova
’s interests include migration, borders and the securitisation of human mobility, and the politics of citizenship and national identity. He is Reader in Urban Geography at King’s College London.

Rashné Limki
’s holds a PhD in Business and Management for Queen Mary University of London. Her work lies at the intersection of postcolonial critique and political economy. In particular, she is interested in racial/postcolonial critiques of the human and capital as privileged descriptors of value in the global present.

David Roediger
teaches and writes on race and class in the United States. He is the Foundation Professor of American Studies at University of Kansas.


Learn more about the Centre for Ethics and Politics at the School of Business and Management, Queen Mary University of London. 

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