326.4 Disciplining spaces and spaces of insurgence: Neoliberal restructuring and workers' socio-environmental struggles in the urban South

Thursday, August 2, 2012: 1:03 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Adriana ALLEN , Development Planning Unit, University College London, London, United Kingdom
In the last forty years or so, the traditional workers-capital struggle has somehow lost its analytical appeal, in favour of new angles to social struggles, such as those introduced by the feminist, racial justice and environmental movements. Drawing on the aforementioned critiques and acknowledging the intersectionality inherent in the social construction of social relationships and subjects formation, this paper revisits class politics through a socio-environmental struggle prompted by flexible accumulation in the urban context of the global south.

Focusing on the neoliberal restructuring process of the Argentinean fisheries sector in Mar del Plata city (historically, the national epicentre of the activity),the paper examines how workers' struggles over urban-based production are regulated and mediated at multiple scales and spatial configurations (the household, the factory, the harbour, the sea). The analysis covers almost a decade of conflicts labelled by the media as the 'Fisheries War', extending from the late 1990s to the first decade of the 21st century. It explores thematerial and discursive practices of female and male workers both in adapting to and resisting two articulated processes: the precarisation of work through the creation of 'pseudo-cooperatives', a façade through which wagedemployment was replaced by piecemeal contracts, and the plundering of nature through the depletion of the main commercial species. The analysis aims to shed light on how apparent 'permanences' formed through long processes of social change are subject to processes of dissolution and reformulation that give rise to new forms of resistance and subordination and reshape the relation between workers, capitalists, the state and the urbancondition.