141.1 Unfree labour, law and imperialism

Wednesday, August 1, 2012: 12:30 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Adrian SMITH , Department of Law, Carleton University, Ottawa, ON, Canada
Within mainstream theorizing, industrial agricultural capitalists are perceived to be freed from national state constraints owing to the hyper-competitiveness of contemporary migration.  However, agri-capital remains deeply embedded within conditions and relations of labour unfreedom.  The deep reliance of agri-capital upon unfree labour renders it beholden to the politico-legal interventions of states, sending and receiving.  The critical challenge is to deepen understanding of the work law does to legitimize, discipline and regulate migrant labour within the hierarchical and uneven logic of the nation-state system and global capitalism; and, in so doing, to examine ways in which workers and their allies have pressed these contradictions to seek a break.  Through a case study on seasonal agricultural workers in Canada, the paper situates unfree labour within a political economy of law analysis attentive to primitive accumulation and “new” imperialism, and resistance.  In the latter respect, the analysis engages with recent interventions from Tom Brass and David Harvey.