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Labour in the Green Transition

When: Thursday, June 8, 2023, 4:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Where: Peston Lecture Theatre, Graduate Centre, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London, E1 4NS


Join the conversation, organised by the Centre on Labour, Sustainability and Global Production (CLaSP), between Professor Ariel Salleh (Nelson Mandela University, South Africa) and Professor Matthew Huber (Syracuse University, USA) as Distinguished Visiting Scholars of the Centre. 


With the climate crisis firmly upon us, it is clear, now more than ever, that mainstream solutions centred on the market and technology have done little to move us along a sustainable ecological transition. Even the disruptions of the pandemic proved temporary, and global production and extraction have continued apace. Equally, the institutional infrastructure that has supported ecologically destructive capitalist growth, constituted by a plethora of world forums and regional and international, private and public, and bilateral and multilateral agreements and commitments has undertaken no course correction. What we have then is a form of global capitalism that is motored by the relentless use of material resources, on the one hand, and detached from the present and future material realities of the vast majority of the global population, on the other.    

At the same time, this vast majority remains far from passive. Struggles of working people have mushroomed across the globe around their conditions of work and life and around questions of racial, gender, ethnic, inter-generational and environmental justice. While not all these struggles are linked to the climate crisis, they reflect deep unrest with business-as-usual and an urgency towards progressive transformation. It is crucial to consider the place of these collective struggles in imagining and effecting a green transition, and within it, not least, the socially and spatially differentiated agency of labouring individuals and communities.    

This end-of-year event seeks to centre the labour-nature relation, and the multiple sources and trajectories of alienation within capitalism, in thinking through the climate crisis and the green transition. It will explore the varied manifestations of workers’ struggles as ecological struggles and seeks to reposition labour in its plurality at the centre of the green agenda.     

It asks: What is the place and role of labour in the green transition? What kinds of class struggles can be and should be organized in the short-term? What can we learn from history, i.e., from past struggles and debates on sustainability, environment and the climate crisis? Is there space for a 'thin-green-line' to reconcile global classes of labour across their multiple axes of fragmentation (race, gender, ethnicity, age, geographical location etc.)? Is it possible to envisage a green transition that does not lose sight of labour, one that reconfigures (potentially, challenges) global capitalism to save the people as much as it saves the planet?    

The event will be followed by a reception.

All all welcome, but please reserve a spot on the Eventbrite.

This is workshop is supported IHSS Re-thinking Work Research Programme and co-funded by the IHSS Visiting Fellowship Scheme.

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