Monday, 7 October 2019, 16:00 for 16:30-17:30

Venue: Centre for Competition, Regulation and Economic Development, 1st Floor, 6 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank

Since the 2012 Marikana killings there has been a boom in scholarship about labour relations in the South African mining sector, focused primarily on the ability of workers to organise and the role of state violence in policing strikes. Quality of life issues in mining communities are usually explored only insofar as they affect these labour relations. This focus is incomplete, because it ignores the way that services and infrastructure in mining communities affect local residents who have no formal links to the mine. Local residents engage in resistance to the mine’s operations quite separately from labour activists. Scholarship that treats these local residents simply as a potential labour force subject to stabilisation overlooks their political agency. Indeed, local residents and labour groups come into conflict with one another, and with the state, even as all three groups come into the conflict with the mine. This article situates the 2012 violence within an ongoing multiparty conflict over the post-apartheid social settlement. It finds that the logic of transformation, with its emphasis on companies’ contributions to social welfare, places mining companies in a position of political authority and strengthening their position against demands for reform.

Professor Edward Webster (Southern Centre for Inequality Studies, University of the Witwatersrand) will be the discussant.

Brief Profiles of the Speakers

Dr. Maha Rafi Atal is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Copenhagen Business School where she studies the political economy of corporate power. Her current research interests include the politics of “corporate social responsibility”; corporate influence in the media; technology platforms and data regulation; and the accountability of corporations under international law. In addition to her academic research, she is an award-winning business and economics journalist, with work published in Forbes, Fortune, BusinessWeek, The Guardian and The New Statesman, among others. She is the former Editor-in-Chief of the Cambridge Review of International Affairs, and the co-founder and Executive Director of Public Business, a non-profit supporting reporting, research and discussion about the wider impact of business actions. She holds a PhD in Politics and International Studies from the University of Cambridge, an MA in Business and Economics Journalism from Columbia University and a BA in History and Comparative Literature from Brown University.

Professor Edward Webster is a Distinguished Research Professor in the Southern Centre for Inequality and founder and associate of the Society, Work and Development Institute Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand. He was a Senior Fulbright Scholar at the University of Wisconsin (Madison) in 1995/1996. He was the first Ela Bhatt Professor at the International Centre for Development and Decent Work (ICDD) at Kassel University in Germany in 2009/2010 . His research interests lie in the world of work, labour movements and social policy. In 2009 his co-authored book, Grounding Globalisation: Labour in the Age of Insecurity was awarded the prestigious American Sociological Association award for the best scholarly monograph published on labour. In 2017 he co-edited two volumes, the Unresolved National Question: left thought under apartheid and Crossing the Divide; Precarious Work and the future of Labour.

DATE: Monday, 7 October 2019
TIME: 16:00 for 16:30-17:30
VENUE: Centre for Competition, Regulation and Economic Development, 1st Floor, 6 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank (Click here for directions)

For more information please contact Seli Makofane on