Key issues in the anthropology of labour in the context of flexible capitalism

Since the 2008 crisis, anthropologists have rekindled their interest in labour. While Euro-American societies primarily experience these changes as the waning of secure contracts, the 21th century has seen an ever-greater variety of labor regimes with differential subsumption of labor to capitalist expansion. The changing nature of work pertains not only to industrial labor but to feminisation, migration and the automation of labour via digital platforms. These processes have engendered a re-theorisation of the concept of precarity around wider issues of life and care rather than just income or productive work. Stretched between the horizon of potentiality and the politics of inequality, labour occupies a central field in the anthropological inquiry into the human condition and opens up towards a more familiar terrain of anthropological research of kinship, gender, and community in relation to social reproduction.

The Anthropology of Labour Network was established under EASA in 2018 to create a space for anthropologists interested in linking macroeconomic processes to everyday experiences, and to reconceptualise productive and reproductive work, labour’s value(s) in social life and workers struggles. This two days event is co-organised with Focaal-Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology, a peer-reviewed journal combining ethnography, processual analysis, local insights and global vision in relation to wider spatial networks of capitalism.

The workshop is supported by EASA, Focaal, and the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR). It will be held at the University of Amsterdam.

University of Amsterdam, Sep 30 –Oct 1, 2019
Venue: Common room of the UvA anthropology department (REC B5.12) at Roeterseilandcampus.


Day I: September 30

10.00-10.30 Welcome and introduction

10.30-12.00 Panel 1: Industrialism under change
Discussant: Dimitra Kofti

12.00-12.15 Coffee/Tea break

12.15-13.45 Panel 2: Labor regimes in transition
Discussant: Luisa Steur

13.45-14.45 Catered Lunch

14.45-16.15 Panel 3: Reconceptualizing 'ordinary' work
Discussant: Tina Harris

16.15-16.30 Coffee/Tea break

16.30-18.00 Panel 4: Thriving Informal Economies
Discussant: Lorraine Nencel

18.00-19.00 Special Event: Presenting new publications in the field

19.30 - Dinner at Mama Dough, Beukenplein 21, Amsterdam

Day II: October 1

09.00-10.00 Anthropology of Labour Network Meeting

10.00-11.30 Panel 5: Flexibility Costs
Discussant: Dan Hirslund

11.30-11.45 Tea/Coffee break

11.45-13.15 Panel 6: New Precarities
Discussant: Mariya Ivancheva

13.15-14.15 Catered Lunch

14.15-15.45 Panel 7: Social reproduction revisited
Discussant: Sian Lazar

15.45-16.00 Tea/Coffee Break

16.00-17.30 Panel 8: Unionism and worker struggles
Discussant: Miriyam Aouragh

17.30-18.00 Closing Remarks


The organizers

Mariya Ivancheva, University of Liverpool (
Dan V. Hirslund, University of Copenhagen (
Luisa Steur, University of Amsterdam (

More information on Focaal is available on the journal’s website ( and its blog (