The conditions for after Work: Financialization and informalization in posttransition South Africa

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IN A TIME OF FINANCIAL CRISIS, THE AMOUNT OF TALK ABOUT THE Nature and challenges of employment-what Kathi Weeks aptly describes as "the problem with work" in her eponymous book (2011)-should hardly be surprising. While work is in short supply in some parts of the world, in others employment has intensified and necessarily become increasingly exploitative; in still other places work, in the sense of formal wage employment, has rarely if ever been a given. Addressing these structural transformations in the global labor market, theorists have tried to develop a new vocabulary to describe the precariousness of work: the emergence of a class of workers made up of those destined to remain poor because of underemployment or depressed wages and those subject to intermittent and even permanent unemployment. This new "contingent class," though perhaps analogous to Karl Marx's lumpen proletariat (Eighteenth Brumaire), has arisen from different conditions.






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Makhulu, AM (2012). The conditions for after Work: Financialization and informalization in posttransition South Africa. PMLA, 127(4). pp. 782–799. 10.1632/pmla.2012.127.4.782 Retrieved from

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Anne-Maria B. Makhulu

Associate Professor in the Department of Cultural Anthropology

Anne-Maria Makhulu is an Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology and African and African American Studies and Core Faculty in Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Duke University. Her research interests cover: Africa and more specifically South Africa, cities, space, globalization, political economy, neoliberalism, the anthropology of finance and corporations, as well as questions of aesthetics, including the literature of South Africa. Makhulu is co-editor of Hard Work, Hard Times: Global Volatility and African Subjectivities (2010) and the author of Making Freedom: Apartheid, Squatter Politics, and the Struggle for Home (2015). She is a contributor to Producing African Futures: Ritual and Reproduction in a Neoliberal Age (2004), New Ethnographies of Neoliberalism (2010), author of articles in Anthropological Quarterly and PMLA, special issue guest editor for South Atlantic Quarterly (115(1)) and special theme section guest editor for Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East (36(2)). A new project, South Africa After the Rainbow (in preparation), examines the relationship between race and mobility in postapartheid South Africa and has been supported with an award from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

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