The Agrarian Question of Gendered Labour
March 4 @ 5:15 pm - 7:00 pm
LYN OSSOME (Institute for Economic Justice, Johannesburg)
The gendered nature of exploitation attached to social reproduction in the process of agrarian transitions continues to preoccupy feminist agrarian scholarship. In that tradition, this paper explores some conceptual dimensions of gendered labour by focusing on labour processes associated with rural and agrarian economies through a theoretical exploration of reproductive labour as an agrarian question. Under the global neoliberal economic regime and the resulting labour fragmentation, capitalist markets increasingly rely on such reproductive labours whose dimensions are now different, such that beyond denoting women’s historical burden of reproduction, every productive activity is now a mere act of survival, disarticulated from accumulation and therefore assuming less importance to both national and global concerns. This reality necessitates a shift from an exclusive focus on exploitation under capitalist value creation towards the question of survival of labour and human life under phases of capitalist accumulation, which poses reproduction anew as an agrarian question of gendered labour.
Lyn Ossome is a Senior Research Specialist at the Institute for Economic Justice, Johannesburg. Prior to that she was a Senior Research Fellow at the Makerere Institute of Social Research, Makerere University where she taught political studies and feminist political economy. Her research focuses on gendered labour, land and agrarian questions, the modern state and the political economy of gendered violence. She is the author of Gender, Ethnicity and Violence in Kenya’s Transitions to Democracy: States of Violence (2018) and co-editor of the forthcoming volume Labour Questions in the Global South (2021). She is also co-editor of the Journal of Contemporary African Studies and editorial board member of Agrarian South: Journal of Political Economy.