16 February, 2015: Dimitra Kofti (Max Planck Institute)

Title: Moral economy across and beyond the production line: Solidarities and tenstions among workers in Bulgarian industry.
15:30-17:00h, Room 5.A42, Pieter de la Court building.

About Dimitra Kofti

Dr. Dimitra Kofti is a post-doctoral research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle, Germany. She received her PhD at the Department of Anthropology, University College London for her research on transformations of industrial labour and management in the context of privatisation in Bulgaria. She is now member of the post-doctoral project group ‘Industry and Inequality in Eurasia’. 

Her current project ‘Work, Spatial Relationships and Privatisation in a Bulgarian Steel Town’ focusses on rapid socio-economic transformations in a steel and mining town that has been one of the emblematic locations of industrialisation in the country since the early 20th century. Taking space as dynamic and processual, Dimitra Kofti explores the ways in which transformations of the urban landscape are manifest in people’s use of space. In the steel-making factory, she is focussing on gender, age and ethnic divisions on the shop floor and how these inequalities connect with the newly formed categories of permanent and temporary work.

In a social context where industrial labour has been significantly de-valued since the socialist past, she also examines the human-machine relationships, ideas of creativity and value, and new political discourses and activism. By this ethnographic enquiry, she aims to contribute to wider discussions about the flexibilisation of work and production and shifting relations of class.

Inequality and the implications of a moral economy

In her talk Dimitra Kofti will discuss how permanent and casual workers, with significantly different status and benefits at work, perform the same tasks around the repetitive and quick rhythm of the conveyor belt and will question how these inequalities are (re)produced on the shop floor and at home. She will draw out some of the theoretical implications of adopting a moral economy’s approach into the analysis of these new forms of inequalities in the context of wider transformations of managerial and production practices of flexibility. She will show the interconnections between the household and the production space and will discuss the prevalence of household strategies over individual choices and trajectories.

Precarity at work and at home

Dimitra will focus on Mladost, a Bulgarian factory that was privatized in the mid 1990’s, where she has conducted long-term fieldwork at different stages from 2007 until 2014. By focussing on the fabrication of precarity at work and at home, she aims to contribute to the discussion on how moral and political choices are interlinked and to underline that the accumulation in the factory is embedded with relations in the household as well as with relations of kinship and intimacy on the shop floor.

Research Seminars Spring 2015