4:00pm - 5:30pm
10 Nov 2016
Seminar Room A, China in the World Building (188), Fellows Lane, ANU
Activists working for Chinese labour NGOs often face repression by the party-state, suspicions by the workers and criticisms by foreign donors. In such a context, why do they decide to undertake such a difficult and often unrewarding job? And how do they frame their commitment to the cause of worker rights and their relationship with the Chinese labour movement? In this seminar, Ivan Franceschini will analyse how labour activists perceive their relationship with the party-state and with the labour movement in general. He will first outline of the main criticisms that the existing academic literature levels at Chinese labour NGOs and provide an overview of the official narrative of the party-state of labour NGOs as agents of “foreign hostile forces.” He will then explain how labour activists frame their decision to get involved in labour activism. He will argue that there are three main rationales behind their choice: a feeling of betrayal by the political system; the willingness to contribute to “public interest;” and, most of all, a strong disenchantment toward the legal system. He will also argue that, although in recent years some NGOs have started to engage with collective disputes and to promote collective bargaining, labour activists remain still quite reluctant to identify with the Chinese labour movement.
About the Speaker
Ivan Franceschini is a Marie Curie Fellow at the Australian Centre on China in the World. A graduate of Venice University, from 2006 to 2015 he lived in China, where he worked as a journalist and as a consultant in the field of development cooperation. His research focuses on Chinese labour and civil society, but he is also interested in Chinese modern history and literature. He has published several books related to China, on topics ranging from human trafficking to digital activism, from labour struggles to civil society. He is also interested in literary translation, and he published two critical editions, the first of Lu Xun’s Old Tales Retold, the second of Li Gui’s A Record of Pondering Pain, a long-forgotten memoir about the Taiping Rebellion. Currently, he is developing a research on Chinese labour in global perspective that will enlarge the scope of his analysis to other Asian countries, especially Cambodia.