15 November 2022: China’s Environmental Authoritarianism as a Global Model? Opportunities and Challenges
Dr.in Maria Bondes, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg
– In view of the global environmental crisis and the failure of leading democratic states to effectively address the climate problem, there is much debate about whether authoritarian governance models – so-called “environmental authoritarianism” – might be more suitable to tackle the ecological crisis of our time in time. As part of its new assertive foreign policy, China’s government under Xi Jinping is promoting China’s top-down environmental governance system and its vision of an “ecological civilisation” as a global model for a more sustainable future for our planet. The country presents itself on the international stage as a pioneer of global environmental and climate governance. At the same time, China is struggling domestically with a massive environmental crisis that threatens the legitimacy of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and is seen by some observers as the “Achilles’ heel of modern China”. Here, the Chinese leadership points to great successes in the fight against air pollution, progress in national climate and energy policy and China’s world-leading role in renewable energy. The lecture takes a critical look at China’s international ambitions and national successes in the environmental field and highlights the strengths and weaknesses of China’s top-down environmental governance system. On this basis, it will discuss to what extent China’s “environmental authoritarianism” could be a global model to address the ecological crisis of our time.
16 November 2022: Constructing ‘self’ and ‘other’ in the micropolitics of housework: Sri Lankan migrant domestic workers in Saudi Arabia
(Lecture in collaboration with the Department of Sociology and Human Geography)
Dr. Wasana Handapangoda, Johannes Kepler University (JKU) Linz
– In a workplace simultaneously characterised by a high degree of ‘personalism and asymmetry’ (in Evelyn Nakano Glenn’s terms, 1984), live-in migrant domestic work provides an ideal instance of private home as a site of political struggle embedded in the dynamics of contemporary global capitalism. Combining structural analysis of domestic labour, neoliberal globalisation and boundary-work as theoretical frameworks, this lecture gives insights into the making of ‘self’ and ‘other’ in the micropolitics of employing Sri Lankan migrant domestic workers in Saudi households. The lecture is based on some of the findings of my fieldwork in Saudi Arabia carried out in 2020. Both the employers and workers used everyday rituals, rules and behaviour regulations of paid domestic labour to distinguish between ‘self’ and ‘other’ categories and construct spatial territories in the not so private world of the Saudi private household. This included the everyday politics of space, mobility and communication, food, clothing/dress, gifting and religious beliefs, over which the boundaries ‒ physical, social bodily, symbolic ‒ were constructed, contested and negotiated. The boundaries were policed and protected, nevertheless they were movable and crossable. In doing micropolitics of housework, both the employers and workers simultaneously intensified and downplayed the structural divides that separated and connected them in the complex organisation of domestic work.