Placing Unfree Labour

Kendra Strauss at the seminar series, Slavery Old and New: Labour Exploitation Through the Ages and Around the Globe

Thursday, March 19, 2015, 1:00 – 2:30 PM

A video recording of the talk can be found here.

Prof. Kendra Strauss


This talk explores how feminist and legal geographical approaches to unfree labour – in particular forced labour and trafficking – unsettle and potentially enrich legal analyses of regulatory regimes. In it, I explore two dimensions of unfreedom in contemporary labour markets that have received less attention than issues of implementation and enforcement. First, I examine how jurisdiction constructs, and is produced by, socio-spatial processes that are more-than-territorial, and which normatively shape what counts as work and who counts as a worker. Second, I apply these insights to an examination of how climate change, as a set of processes that overflow state boundaries and produce localized, material vulnerabilities to forced labour and trafficking, might problematize approaches that posit de-territorialization as the solution to jurisdictional conundrums.

Kendra Strauss is Associate Member of the Simon Fraser University Department of Geography and Assistant Professor at the Labour Studies Program & The Morgan Centre for Labour Research. Her work focuses on occupational pensions; precarious work, migration and unfree labour; and on theorizing the relationships between production and social reproduction in contemporary capitalist economies.

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