Death and value in class formation in Kazakhstan
Eeva Keskula (Tallinn University)
Paper short abstract:
I study the negotiation of the value of miners' body, dead or alive, in Kazakhstani coal mines. For miners, precaritisation as a class process consists of unpredictability of death and the unpredictable value of the labouring (dead) body.
Paper long abstract:
This paper studies how class processes and relations are negotiated in wage/compensation and Occupational Health and Safety struggles in mining. Analysing the aftermath of a 2017 mining accident in an ArcelorMittal mine Kazakhstan that killed three miners, I show how class unfolds in discussions on death and value. Due to miners' particularly dangerous work class position, class as identity and practice is first negotiated in the struggles for life and death in Occupational Health and Safety. There, global standards, the Indian management and local Health and Safety officials form a battlefield of "Safety vs profit" where miners have to negotiate their physical and class positions every shift. The second crucial negotiation between workers and the management is about the value of the body of the miner: first in the negotiations of the value of the labouring body and secondly in the form of compensation for the dead body. I argue that in the case of miners, precaritisation as a class process signifies unpredictability of death and the unpredictable value of the labouring (dead) body.
The new anthropology of class: relations of place, experience and (dis)possessions