Work, utopia and the reproduction of life

(This blog was originally published at FUTURES OF WORK)

By Ana Cecilia Dinerstein

We are here to live. Obvious as it sounds, this simple fact is becoming progressively problematic. This is particularly so if you are a child forced to work for the São Paolo mafia; an asylum seeker travelling on a hazardous boat to Australia; a 13 year old sex worker in Malaysia; or a father of five working for a transnational company in which trade unions are forbidden. These examples are not the exception but, rather, becoming the norm. They share a common struggle to work or to find work in order to produce the means for individual or collective survival under diverse and adverse circumstances. In global capitalism, such means are synonymous with money. And, so far, the futures of work on which we depend on to earn that money appear gloomy. Continue reading

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Argentina votes to legalise abortion in latest victory for global feminism

(This blog was originally published at The Conversation)

By Ana Cecilia Dinerstein and Lucía Cirmi Obón

“Nothing will stop us now!” These were the words of the excited and emotional activists when Argentina’s parliament voted narrowly (129 votes to 125) to decriminalise abortion. The National Congress in Buenos Aires was surrounded by women wearing green scarves around their necks, heads and wrists. Since 2005 this has been the symbol of their campaign. It represents life and hope and evokes memories of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo – a group of women whose children disappeared under the dictatorship in Argentina during the 1970s and 1980s.

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Local Elections in Nepal and Sri Lanka: Empowering or Underming the Margins?

(This blog was originally published at Borderlands Asia)

By Oliver Walton

In the aftermath of civil wars, local elections are often viewed as transformative moments when voices from the margins can be heard and where new, more inclusive political settlements can be forged. Many post-war state reform packages emphasise measures to devolve power to local government as a mechanism for addressing the post-war grievances of marginalised groups.

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Which is better: a guaranteed job or a guaranteed income?

(This blog was originally published at From poverty to power)

By Eleanor Chowns

Martin Ravallion (former Chief Economist of the World Bank, now at CGD) published a useful paper this week asking exactly this question.  As he says, there’s no simple answer – which is why the question is so interesting. Continue reading

What do Kenyans really want from financial service providers?

(This blog was originally published at FSD Kenya)

By Susan Johnson

A large number of financial devices that are used by Kenyans to manage their money involve social relationships: from savings or investment groups that operate according to specific protocols and norms, to less structured arrangements like welfare associations, to the very informal, like borrowing goods on loan from your local shopkeeper or exchanging resources with a neighbour or cousin from time to time as needs arise. Such social arrangements are a natural foundation for money management where formal financial services are not available or out of reach.  However, despite the growing proximity of bank branches, cash-in cash-out agent networks and proliferation of mobile phones which offer even remote populations a growing set of choices for basic, digital financial services, these arrangements persist. So, what is it about them that make them so useful and valued by people? and what does that answer suggest about why services like M-PESA, M-Shwari and Equity accounts have had so much success with the mass market, where others have failed?

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What can financial providers learn from chamas?

(This blog was originally published at FSD Kenya)

By Susan Johnson

Informal financial groups such as merry-go-rounds or chamas are used by 41% of the Kenyan adults while traditional bank accounts are held by only 32% of the population (FinAccess 2016).  Analysts often stress the unreliability of informal groups and the risk of loss of money when members of the group default[1]. So why do so many people continue to use them? What is their enduring appeal?

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Workshop on pluri-nationality in Bolivia and Ecuador: Different perspectives and Janus-faced experiences

By Jonathan Alderman and Britta K. Matthes

On Friday, 12th of January, the ECR/PGR workshop “Pluri-national state, autonomy and ‘good living’/’living well’: Approaches to and reflections on tensions in Bolivia and Ecuador” took place at the University of Bath. The event, supported by the Centre for Development Studies (CDS), aimed at bringing together junior academics from different disciplines, who investigate the transformations taking place in Bolivia and Ecuador.

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Our individual responsibility to face down the rise of the far right

(This blog was originally published at The Conversation)

By Aurelie Charles

Ever since the financial crisis of 2008, American society has become increasingly divided. In among its deep fissures, the far right has found a place to incubate and speak out.

Declining demographically and struggling economically, this voice shouts out a violent identity crisis of class, whiteness, and masculinity. So how did that voice get so loud?  Continue reading

How activism pushes companies to be political

(This blog was originally posted at The Conversation)

By Michael Bloomfield

Have you ever wondered why some companies seem more politically engaged than others? When activists shine a spotlight on an industry for alleged links to social or environmental exploitation, most companies seek to remain in the shadows, fearful of unwanted publicity. But there are often one or two that respond proactively, working with activists to hammer out a solution.

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Concrete Utopia: (Re)producing life in, against and beyond the open veins of capital

(This blog was originally published at Public Seminar)

By Ana Dinerstein

Where is Utopia today? Is this question relevant? One might argue that the term utopia is incongruous with the politics of our time, to say the least. Not only does the term ‘utopia’ indicate no place, when it found a place, it was mistreated and mutilated. What would be the place for utopian thinking in a world that is desperate to solve the accrued problems that it has created for itself? Would utopian thinking distract us from the real tribulations besetting the world? No. In fact, we live in a time when utopia can be no longer objected to. On the contrary, utopia has become necessary and indispensable for millions of people in the world, struggling for survival. The problem is not whether we should seek a utopia or not. The question is what kind of utopia and where to look for it. Continue reading