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2nd Li Yih-yuan Memorial Lecture

2nd Li Yih-yuan Memorial Lecture

Speaker

Professor John L. Comaroff (Hugh K. Foster Professor of African and African American Studies and of Anthropology, Oppenheimer Fellow in African Studies, Harvard University)

Title

After Labor

Time

15:00 ~ 17:00 PM

Venue

R2319, The New Wing, Institute of Ethnology

Abstract

Concern has been steadily mounting, across the globe, that wage work is disappearing. Yet there is little agreement about how, why, where, or in what measure. Or what might take its place in the future. Why do we – scholars, politicians, people at large – seem unable to think beyond a universe founded on mass employment, especially, as is now widely recognized, more people have always been wageless than waged. And why does labor remain so central both to popular and theoretical understandings of life under capitalism, all the more so amidst anxieties about its imminent demise? What exactly is unique about the present moment? As we fail to imagine an age after “the end of work,” we seem ever more haunted by nightmares of our own redundancy, by surreal images of a world in which value is produced by other means: not merely by finance or AI, but by workers who are simultaneously human-and-nonhuman, living-and-dead, present-and-absent. What does this tell us about the afterlife of homo faber? How, more generally, might we think about an anthropology of life and labor in the so-called “New Age of Capital”?

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