Current Department Seminar Series

Monday 28 April 2014 - 2 - 4pm
Speakers: Hannah Lewis
Topic: Conceptualising Hyper-Precarious Migrant Lives: From Forced Labour To Unfreedom

Drawing on the ESRC-funded study 'Precarious lives: experiences of forced/unfree labour among refugees and asylum seekers', this presentation will critique the International Labour Organisation’s approach to defining and tackling forced labour and argue that discussing such phenomena in rigid binaries (such as free/forced) is unhelpful.

Instead, processes in migrant labour experiences will be highlighted and a continuum approach built around the concept of ‘unfreedom’ is suggested as the best way to ensure that the diversity of migrants’ experiences of forced labour are considered.

The ‘hyper-precarity trap’ is further discussed as an analytical device to show how welfare, work, race, rights, journeys, the economy and neoliberalism all come together to create the ‘demand’ and ‘supply’ of forced labour subjects and how they intersect to produce multidimensional insecurities.

Overall, this presentation will emphasise that to try to separate ‘slavery’, ‘trafficking’ or ‘forced labour’ as an exceptional event undermines an understanding of how exploitation is tied up with social, political and legal status, migration, gender and economic systems.

Click here to download the flyer

About the Speakers: Dr Hannah LewisDr Hannah Lewis, University of Leeds

Hannah Lewis is Critical Geography Research Fellow in the School of Geography, University of Leeds, UK with research interests in refugee community, immigration policy, contingent socialities, multiculturalism, and food.

Her recent ESRC project, ‘Precarious Lives’, is the first study of forced labour experiences among refugees and asylum seekers in the UK. The resulting book with Peter Dwyer, Stuart Hodkinson and Louise Waite, Precarious lives: forced labour, exploitation and asylum (Policy Press) is forthcoming. Dr Lewis’ research track-record spans academic, public policy and voluntary sector studies on ‘new’ migration, asylum seeker dispersal, the destitution of refused asylum seekers, and migrant and refugee integration, housing and volunteering.

Her recent publications include (2013) ‘’Multiculturalism is never talked about’, Policy & Politics (2011) ‘Status matters: forced labour and UK immigration policy', a Joseph Rowntree Foundation policy paper; and (2010) 'Community moments: integration and transnationalism at ‘refugee’ parties and events', Journal of Refugee Studies 23(4).

Venue: Room 148 RC Mills building, A26 [map]


Wednesday 30 April 2014 - 2 - 4pm
Speakers: Kurt Mills
Topic: Intervention, The International Criminal Court and Humanitarianism in Africa

Over the preceding decades, the international community has developed three sets of norms and practices to deal with situations of mass atrocities - humanitarianism, international criminal justice, and the use of military force - what has come to be known as the responsibility to protect.

A major question remains as to whether these responses form part of a coherent integrated whole, or whether the relationships between them are much more ambiguous and problematic.

This talk will argue the latter, exploring the perplexing conundrums and unintended consequences evident in the implementation of these norms and practices.

The focus will be on recent experiences in sub-Saharan Africa, and in particular the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda.

Click here to download the flyer

About the Speakers: Dr Kurt MillsDr Kurt Mills, University of Glasgow

Dr Kurt Mills is Senior Lecturer in International Human Rights at the University of Glasgow, and the Convenor of the Glasgow Human Rights Network. He is also Vice-President-Elect of the International Studies Association, and was the founding chair of the human rights section of ISA.

Currently, he is a visiting scholar at the Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect at the University of Queensland. He previously taught at Gettysburg College, James Madison University, Mount Holyoke College, and the American University in Cairo, and was Assistant Director of the Five College Program in Peace and Security Studies at Hampshire College. He received his undergraduate degree from Hampshire College, and his postgraduate degrees from the University of Notre Dame.

His work focuses on human rights and international organisations, with particular emphasis on the responsibility to protect, the International Criminal Court, and humanitarianism, and a regional focus on sub-Saharan Africa.

Venue: Room 440 Old Teachers' College building, A22 [map]


Monday 5 May 2014 - 2 - 4pm
Speakers: Rae Lesser Blumberg
Topic: The Magic Money Tree?
Women, Economic Power and Development in a Globalized World

Blumberg’s gender stratification and gender and development theories posit that women’s relative economic power – their control of income and other assets – is the most important although far from the only factor affecting their position.

This paper presents theory and a compilation of research concerning the outcomes of women’s economic empowerment vs. their economic disempowerment. Their economic empowerment is linked to a cornucopia of benefits from micro to macro levels. These range from greater gender equality to enhanced development, peace and well-being.

At the micro level, with greater economic power, women have more freedom of movement and say in household decisions, including their own fertility (which they overwhelmingly choose to curb). They also tend to spend income they control on children’s nutrition, health and education – human capital – more than counterpart men.

At the macro level, both decreased fertility and increased human capital are linked to greater national income growth and well-being. Economically disempowered women are more subjugated, have higher fertility and children with poorer nutrition, health and education. Their societies have more armed conflict and worse economic and well-being indicators.

Click here to download the flyer

About the Speakers: Prof Rae Lesser BlumbergProfessor Rae Lesser Blumberg, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA

Professor Rae Lesser Blumbert is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Sociology at the University of Virginia. She received her Ph.D. from Northwestern in 1970 and joined the Sociology Department in 1998. She is also Professor Emerita of Sociology at the University of California, San Diego.

Her academic work revolves around two theories. Firstis a general theory of gender stratification found in such works as Stratification: Socioeconomic and Sexual Inequality (Wm. C Brown, 1978); "A General Theory of Gender Stratification" (Sociological Theory 1984); and Gender, Family, and Economy: The Triple Overlap (Sage 1991). The second is an evolving theory of gender and economic development as described in such works as "Making the Case for the Gender Variable: Women and the Wealth and Well-being of Nations (U.S.A.I.D. 1989) and EnGENDERing Wealth and Well-being: Empowerment for Global Change, edited by Blumberg, Cathy Rakowski, Irene Tinker and Michael Monteon (Westview, 1995). Largely in pursuit of her theories, she has worked in over 40 countries on every continent except Antarctica.

Venue: Room 148 RC Mills building, A26 [map]


Thursday 19 June 2014 - 4 - pm
Presented by: Department of Sociology and Social Policy and Department of Political Economy
Speakers: Charles Woolfson
Topic: The Great Recession in the Baltic States, Austerity Myths and the Wider Lessons of 'Internal Devaluation'

During the years of ‘the great recession’, the Baltic ‘Tiger’ economies of the mid-2000s experienced the most severe downturn not only in Europe, but globally.

Now with economic recovery in sight, this paper examines the myths of the new Baltic ‘success’ story that the imposition of radical austerity measures - so-called ‘internal devaluation - can be achieved with popular consent, and in a socially and economically ‘costless’ manner. Baltic-style austerity has become a template for the international financial community, the European Commission and more widely.

The paper argues that, contra the myths of ‘success’, austerity has had significant social and economic costs which undermine the longer-run sustainability of states which follow this path. Among these costs are significant increases in poverty, growing social, political and industrial ‘disenfranchisement’, labour market segmentation, as well as an unprecedented and continuing emigration of a new ‘austeriat’.

The paper offers a cautionary message to governments seeking to restore economic growth at the expense of labour in the aftermath of the crisis.

Click here to download the flyer

About the Speakers: Prof Charles WoolfsonProfessor Charles Woolfson, Linköping University

Charles Woolfson is Professor of Labour Studies in the Institute for Research on Migration, Ethnicity and Society (REMESO), Linköping University, Sweden.

Between 1999 and 2009 he was resident in the Baltic states, and was for three years (2004-2007) appointed by the European Commission as a Marie Curie Chair at the Univesity of Latvia. Together with Jeffrey Sommers, Charles is co-editor of The Contradictions of Austerity: The Socio-Economic Costs of the Neoliberal Baltic Model (Routledge, 2014).

Noam Comsky wrote about The Contradictions of Austerity: “This book promises to become the defining study on the impact of austerity in the Baltics, otherwise known as the ‘Baltic miracle’...heralded by partisans of neoliberal austerity as demonstrating the success of their economic therapy,..if this “miracle” counts as success, one would hate to imagine what failure might be. [T]he import of these incisive inquiries is also “a stark warning” to the European Union, and the world, as the neoliberal assault steadily demolishes the social model that was Europe’s great contribution to modern civilization.”

Venue: Room 398 Merewether building, H04 [map]




Past Seminar

Monday 17 March 2014 - 2 - 4pm
Speakers: Karen Dion
Topic: Ethnic Identity in a Multicultural Society

At the societal level, within Canada, there is considerable structural support acknowledging individuals’ diverse ethnic ancestral origins.

As a social psychologist, I am interested in the extent to which ethnic ancestries contribute to self-definition at the personal level and the factors contributing to the likelihood that individuals include their ethnocultural background in their sense of their own identity.

In my presentation, I’ll discuss findings from survey data which address these issues as well as consider questions for future research raised by these findings

Click here to download the flyer

About the Speakers: Prof. Karen DionProfessor Karen Dion, UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO

Professor Karen Dion is Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto on the Scarborough campus, located in the eastern part of Toronto.

In addition to the issues she will discuss in the seminar, she is currently interested in bicultural identity among second immigrant generation young adults, the role of gender in negotiating bicultural identity and the meaning of ethnocultural identities among second generation youth.

She is a co-author (J.G. Reitz, R. Breton, K.Kisiel Dion and K.L. Dion) of a recent book, Multiculturalism and Social Cohesion: Potentials and Challenges of Diversity, published by Springer in 2009, in which she and graduate student Mai Phan examined this issue using Canadian survey data (the Ethnic Diversity Survey).

Another current research interest is the relation between group identities and personal relationships among individuals from different social groups.

Venue: Room 148 RC Mills building, A26 [map]


Monday 31 March 2014 - 2 - 4pm
Speakers: Parvathi Raghuram
Topic: Migration and Development in The Age of Rising Powers:
Theoretical & Empirical Opportunities

While there has been considerable interest in the implications of the Rising Powers for a variety of disciplines and issues the impact on migration has been less well analysed. However, it is clear that there have been changes to migration – some new patterns have emerged, others have intensified or changed its nature and still others have declined. However, the theoretical challenges of these changes have not yet been explored.

This paper addresses this gap. It outlines the theoretical legacies through which migration in the age of Rising Powers may be conceptualised. As most of the countries that are currently seen to be Rising are classified as part of the global South and considered under the broad rubric of development, this paper will particularly focus on the challenge to migration and development thinking posed by the Rising Powers.

How do we insert the impact of these global shifts into theories of migration that have often implicitly or explicitly adopted a binary (North/South) view of the world? What do these shifts mean for countries like Australia that are seen as part of the global North, but whose alignments are rapidly changing away from longstanding colonial relations towards these Rising Powers?

The paper ends by offering a series of empirical and analytical questions that emerge because of the contemporary ‘global rebalancing’.

Click here to download the flyer

About the Speakers: Dr Parvathi RagharamDr Parvathi Ragharam, OPEN UNIVERSITY, UK

Dr Parvathi Ragharam is Reader in Geography at the Open University. She has published widely on gender, migration and development. Her recent interest focuses on the challenge of ‘Rising Asia’ for postcolonial theory and development studies.

She has co-authored The Practice of Cultural Studies (Sage) and co-edited South Asian Women in the Diaspora (Berg) and Tracing Indian diaspora: Contexts, Memories, Representations(Sage).

She co-edits the journal South Asian Diaspora (Sage) and the book series Mobility and Politics (Palgrave). Her journal publications include articles in Population, Space & Place, Social Politics, Sociology of Health & Illness, and Sociology

Venue: Room 148 RC Mills building, A26 [map]