The Social Life of Trade Union Politics in Argentina
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I will discuss my recent ethnographic work on the ethical lives and collective political action of two unions of state employees in Argentina. I examine how activists in both unions create themselves as particular kinds of militants and forms of political community, and argue that these processes lie at the heart of the unions’ strength in contemporary Argentina, which is maintained even in the face of the newly elected right wing regime. I place the lived experience of political activism into historical relief and show how ethics and family values deeply inform the process by which political actors are formed, understood, and joined together through collectivism. Since these are also civil servants, the same processes build the Argentine state, as the unionists negotiate for improved working conditions but understand that as a struggle for a better state. Therefore, understandings of the role of the state in public life and of collective political action through unionism co-constitute each other within this group of workers.
- R & P Seminar