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Rethinking labor mobility and its values across Africa and Europe 
Anna Reumert (The New School)
Ruben Andersson (University of Oxford)
Jacquelin Kataneksza (The Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility, The New School for Social Research)
Ahlam Chemlali (DIIS)
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China Sajadian (Vassar College)
Wednesday 24 July, -
Time zone: Europe/Madrid
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Short Abstract:

This roundtable invites anthropologists of labor and migration to rethink how the economy of labor mobility has transformed with the externalization of borders and the global decline in waged work. What kinds of cross-border economic practices have emerged, what values do they produce and for whom?

Long Abstract:

The state militarization and externalization of borders, combined with the global transition from traditional waged work into speculative finance and artificial intelligent services, have exacerbated a sense of labor precarity across the global south. This is a known story; but what are its social consequences? Pushing the anthropology of labor and mobility into new terrains, this roundtable brings together anthropologists from Africa and Europe who examine the myriad, intersecting cross-border economic practices that have emerged with the decline of waged labor. What new forms of social reproduction and collective organizing emerge from the labors of mobility, and how might they push us to rethink the values of labor as such? From bioeconomic technologies of externalization that keep people in check and extract value from immobility on Europe’s externalized borders in North Africa, we move with brokers across the Horn of Africa, and follow itinerant workers in Southern Africa who make a living out of crossing borders carrying clandestine household goods that are in high demand amid regional scarcity. Through these different ethnographic cases of borderwork, we ask whether the mobile body has become labor itself, what value it produces, and for whom. While examining how states and nonstate actors each profit from displacement, we also ask how people on the move navigate and organize against this economic violence. How do people validate themselves within and against the borders and categories that conscribe their living to humanitarian scrutiny and violent extraction?

Keywords: Labor, mobility, value, bioeconomy, borders, Africa