Anthropology of Labour Network (AoL)


Since the global financial crisis in 2008, anthropologists have rekindled their interest in studies of labor issues. Studies have looked at classical questions pertaining to mass work in the contexts of new and waning industries (Mollona, 2009; Carswell, 2013; Cross, 2014; Neveling 2017) while paying special attention to rising trends of growing informal or casualized labor arrangements (Higgins, 2005, Muehlebach, 2011, Weeks, 2015, Millar, 2014; 2018). A new body of literature on precarisation is taking shape (Kofti, 2016; Stewart, 2012), seeking to explore theoretical avenues for understanding contemporary dynamics around labor (Collins, 2016). There are now calls for a "global anthropology of labor" (Kasmir, 2014) and persistent efforts at linking retheorisations of labor with similar advances in the study of neoliberal capitalism (Lambert, 2016; Aguiar, 2006; De Neve, 2014). Labor also opens up towards the more familiar terrain of anthropological research of kinship, gender, and community in relation to social reproduction, which are now engaged within the wider frameworks of cultural and class politics (Narotzky, 2014; Kalb, 2011). Last but not least, anthropological labor has itself come under ethnographic scrutiny, exploring how increased financial pressures, flexibilisation and casualisation shape our engagement with communities, as documented in the recent Social Anthropology forum on “Rethinking Euro-Anthropology” (Martinez 2016). Stretched out between the horizon of potentiality (Elliot, 2016) and the politics of inequality (Carrier, 2015), labor occupies a central field in the anthropological preoccupation with understanding the human condition.

Aim and activities

The network for the anthropology of labor aims to bring together people interested in various topics, ranging from macroscopic interests in political and economic processes, over theoretical efforts at reconceptualising productive and reproductive work and its value(s) for social life, to more microscopic processes surrounding everyday work experience. The network will be a venue for organising events and a hub for sharing information on relevant resources and publications. Growing out of the EASA #PrecAnthro initiative established around the 2016 Bi-Annual Conference in Milan, the network will particularly help share experiences on and organize counter-precarity activities.