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POLS Speaker Series: "Unfreedom, Social Reproduction, and Everyday (Re)negotiation of Reform in Agrarian Economies"

Thursday, December 16, 2021
2:30 PM – 4:00 PM
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Speaker: Dr. Surulola Eke, Banting Postdoctoral Fellow 

Title: "Unfreedom, Social Reproduction, and Everyday (Re)negotiation of Reform in Agrarian Economies"

Abstract: What explains the persistence of agrarian labour exploitation, and why does change inspire violence? My presentation will explore these questions using Nahu-Kparilim (cattle caretakership) in Ghana as a case study. I will draw on theories of unfreedom, social reproduction, and subalternity to illuminate my findings which address these questions. In doing so, I will engage with three theoretical/scholarly debates: 1) whether unfree labour is essentially a feature of a capitalist or semi-feudal social formation, 2) whether the reproduction of unfree labour is internal, or external, to the exploitative system, and 3) whether resistance takes place within or without the hegemonic power. With the example of Nahu-Kparilim, I will demonstrate that the context of unfree labour is variable and that it shapes the nature of its reproduction, which then determines the trajectory of the (re)negotiation of reform. Hence, to address my research questions, I will discuss how and why the same socio-psychological and socio-cultural forces that account for the persistence of Nahu-Kparilim also inspire violent resistance to change.


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