Accepted paper:

Migration and geographies of dispossession

Author:

Pauline Gardiner Barber (Dalhousie)

Paper short abstract:

As Marx describes, localized economic upheavals provide a vehicle for capital accumulation by multiple means, including the dispossession of rural (and more recently urban) populations and the mobilization of labour whose exits and entries into wage labour are calculated on terms beyond their control. Drawing on ethnographic research in the Philippines and in Canada’s deindustrialized hinterlands, this paper examines how “neoliberal” restructuring of Canada’s immigration policy further privileges capital through the delivery of migrant workers experiencing different modes of dispossession.

Paper long abstract:

Anthropologists offer unique purchase on global processes and local lives, but this necessitates attention to the workings of capitalism. As Marx describes, localized economic upheavals provide a vehicle for capital accumulation by multiple means, including the dispossession of rural (and more recently urban) populations and the mobilization of labour whose exits and entries into wage labour are calculated on terms beyond their control. While it has become fashionable to link such disruptions to livelihoods and ways of living with the agendas of neoliberal states, more probing of people's responses to displacement, dispossession, and enforced geographic mobilities is required to move us beyond facile pronouncements. Drawing on ethnographic research in the Philippines and in Canada's deindustrialized hinterlands, this paper examines how "neoliberal" restructuring of Canada's immigration policy further privileges capital through the delivery of migrant workers experiencing different modes of dispossession. State-pressured labour market adjustments in Canadian regional political economies include further restrictions for seasonal workers receiving (un)employment insurance. Such workers are challenged to enter labour slots now occupied by temporary foreign workers, primarily Filipino. Meanwhile, in immigrant source countries such as the Philippines, thousands of skilled worker applications have been cancelled, clearing new terrain for employer-driven "just-in-time" immigration. This paper contrasts the continued devaluation of increasingly educated Filipino immigrants with the dispossession of contemporary Canadian workers in regional economies where employment is unpredictable. Neoliberal policy diffusion among immigration countries is thus linked to domestic uneven development, surely the proper subject of anthropology enquiry.

panel PE39
Capitalism and global anthropology: Marxism resurgent