This panel seeks to disrupt narratives of development in Africa centred on waged labour in order to examine the generative potential of a broader range of socioeconomic relations, including interdependency, reciprocity and care.
The history of the wage in Africa is inseparable from that of colonialism, dispossession and expropriation (Fanon 1961; Freund 1984; Mamdani 1976). Yet waged labour continues to be reified in visions of development on the continent. A substantial scholarship debates the extent to which informal economies are indicative of unrecognised labour that is integral to functioning of capitalism (Chen 2014; Lindell 2010; Meagher 1995) or 'surplus life' that is irrelevant to it (Davis 2006; Ferguson 2015; Li 2009). However, less attention has been paid to the ways in which African societies have rejected the wage relation in favour of alternate modes of socioeconomic life, and the potential contribution of their activities to a world beyond work. This panel seeks to disrupt narratives of development in Africa centred on waged labour in order to examine the generative potential of a broader range of socioeconomic relations, including interdependency, reciprocity and care. At the same time, it proposes to connect Africa to debates on post-work, which have hitherto had little to say about life on the continent (Frayne 2015; Gorz 1999; Weeks 2011). How do people provision outside of waged labour? What types of identities, relations and aspirations do they draw upon? And what possibilities do their activities provide for reconceptualising the social, economic and political boundaries of 'work'? We invite historical, contemporary and future-oriented interventions that disrupt the wage relation in order to reanimate debates on the future of work within and beyond Africa.