(Online talk) Democracy, Civil Society, and Infrastructural Power: How Construction Workers in Beijing and Delhi fight against Precarity by Dr. Irene Pang

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Univeristy of California, Davis East Asian Studies coridally invites you to this Zoom talk on comparative research on Chinese and Indian labor.

Time: 21 February 2023 (Tuesday) from 4:10 to 5:30 pm PST

Zoom link: https://ucdavis.zoom.us/j/9328529016

Abstract: Construction workers in Beijing and Delhi face challenging working and living conditions. My ethnographic research shows that workers in Beijing are more capable than those in Delhi to organize and make claims on the state to fight against precarity. This is puzzling given that the Chinese state limits the social activism of civil society but subordinate groups in India are known for devising innovative forms of mobilization. This talk presents two instances of labor disputes and compares civil society in Beijing and Delhi. It interrogates well-accepted theories on the relationship between democracy and civil society strength. The superior ability of Beijing workers to fight for their rights can be traced to the superior infrastructural power of the Chinese state compared with that of the Indian state. While infrastructural power has often been used to examine how resilient authoritarian regimes exert control over society, this talk highlights its potentials of empowering citizens to make demands on the state.

Bio: Dr. Irene Pang is an Assistant Professor in the School for International Studies at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. She is a political sociologist who studies issues of labor, rights contestation, and state-society relations in contemporary China and India. Her book project is a comparative ethnography which examines how low-income internal migrant construction workers in Beijing and Delhi navigate relations with capital, the state, and civil society in their struggle against precarity.