UoB Benjamin Meaker Visiting Professor Jennifer Bair, University of Virginia, USA

Globalisation and the Changing Contexts of Work in the Developing World
Dates of visit: May 29 - June 6 and June 18 - 22

Jennifer Bair profile pictureBiography

Dr Jennifer Bair is an internationally prominent political economist and sociologist of development. A graduate of Johns Hopkins and Duke Universities, Dr Bair is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Virginia, having previously taught at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and at Yale University. Working partly from within the global commodity chains/value chains/production networks framework for analysing the relation of foreign investment to economic and social development, Dr Bair specializes in the study of trade, working conditions and gender in Latin America and South Asia. She has edited Frontiers of Commodity Chain Research (Stanford University Press, 2008) and her work has been published in journals such as Social Problems, Development and Change, Economy and Society, Environment and Planning A, Comparative Labor Law and Policy Journal, International Journal of Comparative Sociology, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, and World Development. Among her various honours, Dr Bair has been presented with two prestigious awards for her research by the American Sociological Association. Among various international institutions, Dr Bair has delivered keynote lectures to the International Labour Organisation, the European Parliament and the Collège de France. She is currently Chair of the American Sociological Association’s Sociology of Development section.

During Dr Bair's visit, she will be hosted by Professor Jeffrey Henderson (SPAIS) and will give the following lectures/seminars (dates and times TBC) sponsored by the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law’s Research Groups on International Development, Gender, Global Political Economy and Work:

Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Labour Standards and Value Chain Governance in Global Industries
Wednesday, 30 May, 2018, 5.00pm – 6.30pm
Wodehouse Lecture Theatre, School of Education, 35 Berkeley Square, BS8 1JA

Based on research in Bangladesh and focussing predominantly on the experiences of women workers, this lecture will examine the challenges of ensuring labour standards along global supply chains.  Increasingly, foreign brands and retailers responding to sweatshop scandals and other reputational risks are trying to address labour violations at supplier facilities—from tomato farms to garment factories—but these efforts raise fundamental questions about the pressures of global competition, and the nature of responsibility, in the global economy.  What role should the foreign companies that drive global supply chains play in ensuring standards abroad, as compared with national governments or international institutions like the UN and ILO?  This talk will also discuss several examples of firms in global supply chains where workers and worker organizations are actively involved in improving working conditions and labour standards.

Booking is required via Eventbrite:

Followed by a drinks reception.

Developmentalism’s Twilight: Human Rights Politics at the United Nations and the “Long 1970s”
Monday, 4 June, 2018, 5.00pm
Room 0A1, Priory Road Complex, BS8 1TN

During the 1970s, a coalition of developing countries at the United Nations—the so-called G-77—proposed a sweeping programme of structural reforms to the global system of trade, aid and finance.  This project, known as the New International Economic Order (NIEO), was based on the claim that national development and economic sovereignty were necessary for meaningful participation in the international community of states.  The NIEO was largely considered a resounding failure, scuppered by the 1980s Third World Debt Crisis and the rise of neoliberalism more broadly.  Through a focus on contemporary debates around human rights, and particularly the responsibilities of corporations in this regard, this seminar revisits the legacy of the NIEO and questions how fully its vision of state-led developmentalism has been eclipsed. 

Booking is required via Eventbrite:

Followed by a drinks reception.

The Master Class for PhD students will focus on methodologies for the study of work and workers in locally-owned companies absorbed into the production networks of foreign companies. Students will be invited to discuss their own research experiences.

During her time at Bristol, Dr Bair will also be discussing future research and scholarly collaborations with colleagues in the various FSSL Research Groups.