South Asia

Organized Panel Session

Making Place for Labour in Asia

Friday, July 6
12:10 PM - 1:40 PM
Location: Kadamba, Lower Ground Floor

In the 2017 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Vietnam, Chinese premier Xi Jinping announced that ‘economic globalization has become an irreversible historical trend’ laying out his vision of a more ‘equitable’ liberalized trade regimes in Asia. In recent years emerging Asian countries led by China have tried to reimagine an economic geography of Asia that not only seeks to decenter the western dominance but also create its own pathways of capitalist development. In this discourse of economic development dominated by GDP and per capita growth, what is lost is the question of how this growth gets created? Women and workers in the formal and informal economy, who contribute and underpin the growth of any nation, remain excluded and undervalued in this discourse.


 This narrow measure of growth, excludes much of social reproductive work devaluing the unpaid work done by women. Similarly, informal work has historically been devalued, deliberately so in the process of accumulation where labor has been made cheap not just in monetary terms but by stripping basic decency and human rights of the working people. This undervaluation of work in the reproductive sphere also has a bearing on the (under) valuation of work in the formal economy – for men and women alike.


The panel will speak of the ways labor in Asia is reimagining itself in the margins of the economic growth discourse.  In an epoch, increasingly identified as one having to negotiate ecological and environmental challenges, the valuing and placing of labor must also be made central.

Madhumita Dutta

Ohio State University, United States

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Kanchana Ruwanpura

University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom

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Madhumita Dutta

Ohio State University, United States

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Kanchana Ruwanpura

University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom

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Karuna Dietrich

University of Oxford, United Kingdom

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Camille Buat

University of Goettingen, Germany

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Mythri Prasad-Aleyamma

Institute for Human Development, India

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