Precarious Lives, Uncertain Futures
Organized in partnership with Auro University (Surat, India), and with “Challenging Precarity: A Global Network”, this three-day international event sets out to continue the fruitful exchange of debates, ideas and best practices, that began in Lucknow, during “The Cultures of New India” conference hosted at Shri Ramswaroop Memorial University (2017), and continued in Cordoba (“Precarity, Populism and Post-Truth Politics” Conference) in 2018, and in Surat (“Challenging Precarity” Conference) in 2019.
While the previous conferences were focused on manifestations of precarity in the Global South, where certain populations are dispossessed and deprived due to systemic and sustained neglect, ‘Precarious Lives, Uncertain Futures’ is mainly concerned with changes in politics and society, which are reflected in the global mobilization of labour force and the new blurred frontiers of class and belonging.
Indeed, in the post-Fordist era, characterized by the adoption of neoliberal models of development, and marked by extreme flexibility, aggressive competition, and high levels of job insecurity, a new class has emerged: the precariat, a term merging precarity with proletariat. Guy Standing views it as a “class-in-the-making’ in the globalization era, which has eventually created a fragmented ‘global class structure’ (2011, 7). As Judith Butler has recently pointed out, in modern societies “precarity is not a passing and episodic condition, but a new form of regulation that distinguishes this historical time” (2015, vii). Paradoxically, the only certainty we seem to possess is the uncertainty and the vulnerability of our individual and collective condition. The rise of neoliberalism has brought substantial changes in labour-market policies and in immigration laws; nonetheless, all strata of society have been affected as working conditions have been revised, to a greater degree institutionalized and normalized, and, in the words of Isabell Lorey, “thus become a fundamental governmental instrument of governing” (2015, 63). Instead of being regarded as a social liability, inequalities caused by neoliberal forces are, thus, often enhanced and glamorized: but behind the appealing labels of flexibility, freedom, and autonomy in the work place and in life style choice, lurk the specters of isolation, insecurity, and subservience to hegemonic forces. In such a scenario, long-acquired rights are at stake and the future, in its multiple possibilities, looks increasingly uncertain.
The present state of research in precarity demands metaquestions and hence we need to probe both philosophy and practice in light of precarity’s different manifestations. The plural perspectives by which this phenomenon can be addressed also suggest potential for further theorization alongside that of Butler and her critics.
By inviting scholars and experts from different fields and disciplines, and by applying multiple frameworks, methodological approaches, and critical lenses, ‘Precarious Lives, Uncertain Futures’ seeks to explore the different facets of our precarious world, while providing insights into the challenges of our possible futures.
Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:
- • Precarity and forms of political secessionism
- • The casualization of workforces and the new informal labour market
- • Migration, refugees and xenophobia
- • The glamorization of precarity
- • Precarity and social classes
- • The cultural aspects of precarity
- • The precaritization of academia
- • The challenge to precarity of literature and the visual arts
- • Populism and the rise of right wing movements
- • New modes and formats in representing precarity
- • Migrant /refugee narratives of citizenship
- • The language and discourses of precarity
- • Precarity and the (mass and social) media
- • Precarity and education
- • The precarity of women’s reproductive rights (surrogate motherhood, abortion debates)
- • Precarity and ageing
- • Precarity and dispossession
- • Self-precaritization and life style choices
- • Planetary precarity: climate change and environmental degradation
- • Alternative futures, beyond precarity