Honoring the legacy of Prof. W.F. Wertheim, the founding father of Asian studies at UvA, the annual Wertheim Lecture is organized by the Moving Matters programme group of the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research. Dr. Alpa Shah (London School of Economics and Political Science) delivers the 28th Wertheim Lecture. She will argue that The Long March for Revolutionary Change must place at its center the Long March of Labour, that is those who migrate away from their homes for work.
In India - the focus of this lecture - this is the seasonal circular migration of people from their homes to distant work-sites for several months of the year, a movement which is shown to be constituted not just by class relations but also by hierarchies of identity (caste and tribe) and the geopolitics of internal colonialism (region). It is argued that capitalism extracts surplus value from workers not just at the site of production but also through the entire social process of reproducing people as labour, which takes place both in the place of migration and in the home areas, through kinship relations which are marked by gender and generation. Understanding this super-exploitation of migrant labour is important for both our theories of capitalist growth and for the question of what is to be done, the praxis of radical change.
About the speaker
Alpa Shah is Associate Professor of Anthropology at London School of Economics and Political Science. She is the author of ‘Nightmarch: Among India’s Revolutionary Guerrillas’ (2018), ‘In the Shadows of the State: Indigenous Politics, Environmentalism and Insurgency in Jharkhand, India’ (2010) and co-author of ‘Ground Down by Growth: Tribe, Caste, Class and Inequality in 21st Century India’ (2017). Her writing is based on years of deep immersive fieldwork living with the Adivasis of eastern India, and explores numerous issues including emancipatory politics and affirmative action, democracy and development, religion and secularism, agrarian change and labour migration, drinking practices and amorous relationships, and the relationship between class, tribe, caste and gender. She is committed to public engagement and has curated a photo exhibition ‘Behind the Indian Boom: Inequality and Resistance at the heart of economic growth’, made a 30-minute radio documentary for BBC Radio 4 Crossing Continents on India’s Naxalite revolutionary struggle and appeared on numerous radio shows across the world. She currently leads a major EU ERC and UK ESRC funded Programme of Research on Inequality and Poverty in India.
16.00-16.05 Introduction by Dr. Tina Harris and Dr. Luisa Steur
16.05-17.00 Wertheim lecture by Dr. Alpa Shah
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About the Wertheim Lectures
Honoring the legacy of Prof. W.F. Wertheim, the founding father of Asian studies at UvA, the annual Wertheim Lecture is organized by the Moving Matters programme group of the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR, University of Amsterdam). The Wertheim Lecture series transcends the boundaries of the individual disciplines which constitute the social sciences, and aims at understanding the dynamic forces at work within Asia during the colonial and post-colonial eras. Patterns of cultural and structural change are analysed in a framework which is comparative in both time and place. Sometimes the focus is on the nation-state, in its mid-twentieth century form, or on its antecedents in the recent past, but it may also be directed towards other societal levels. A recurrent concern is the integration of intellectual rigour with compassion and social concern.
Agnietenkapel, Oudezijds Voorburgwal 229, Amsterdam