Saturday, December 28, 2013

Labour Rights in the Electronics Industry

The Asia Monitor Resource Centre has published a new book, Labour Rights in the High Tech Electronics Industry:
Case Studies of Workers' Struggles in Samsung Electronics and its Asian Suppliers.  

The book is a great complement to the Bluestocking Institute's book, Lessons for Social Change in the Global Economy: Voices from the Field, which includes a chapter from AMRC's Sanjiv Pandita and Fahmi Panimbang.

Here's a description of the book from the AMRC website:

Labour Rights in the High Tech Electronics Industry describes the struggles of workers fighting for their basic rights in the electronics industry with a focus on the operations of Samsung Electronics and its Asian suppliers, including those in South Korea, Indonesia, India, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand and Taiwan. It also discusses the overall situation of the electrical appliance and electronics industries in Japan where workers have been hit hard by factories relocations.

This book is dedicated to all workers who have lost their lives in struggles for their rights, and to those who have suffered due to occupational diseases and industrial accidents in South Korea and many other places in Asia and beyond, and to victims who have died due to cancer from working in electronic factories. This book also salutes the survivors and their families, who struggle every day for justice.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Lessons for Change in the Global Economy: Voices from the Field

Our edited collection of chapters exploring approaches to creating change is now available for preorder. You can get a 30% discount if you preorder the book from Lexington: order directly online and enter the promotional code 'LEX30AUTH14' or download the order flyer.

In the face of globalization’s massive social and economic transformations and the resulting persistent inequality, activists, labor organizers, and advocacy NGOs are seeking and creating change beyond the confines of formal state politics and across national borders. Given the breadth of local issues activists face, the ways they define the problem and seek redress vary widely. This book provides a unique perspective on these efforts, gathering into one volume concrete examples of the implementation of different strategies for social change that highlight the challenges involved. This provides useful lessons for those involved in social change, as well as for those studying it. Contributors to the volume are scholars and practitioners around the world, and they draw on strong connections with people working in the field to improve working conditions and environmental standards of global production systems. This allows readers to develop a more comprehensive and grounded understanding of strategies for social change.

This book maintains a strong balance between breadth and specificity. It provides an overview of the themes of social change, which contextualizes and draws common threads from the chapters grounded in specific geographic locations and political spaces of change. The chapters analyze environmental and social problems and the varying degrees of success activists have had in regulating industries, containing environmental hazards, and/or harnessing aspects of an industry for positive social and economic change. Contributors draw upon different ways of creating change, which include corporate social responsibility schemes, fair trade regimes, and community radio. By providing insight into the potential and limitations of actions taken at different levels, the book encourages a critical perspective on efforts for social change, grounded in an understanding of how conditions around the world can affect these activities. 
Order now: Amazon, Book Depository.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Annual Report 2012-2013

Bluestocking's Annual Report 2012-2013 is now available.
Over the past financial year, we presented our second short course on Globalisation, began a Book and Film Club, and had our Lifecycles Book accepted for publication. This financial year aims to be just as busy, with a Writing Circle and a Featured Research Column planned. For more information please see the Annual Report file provided on our Facebook site -click here-.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Review of Dingo, Rabbit Proof Fence and a flim clip by Jonathan Safran

At our last gathering we discussed a film, video clip and a book about the legacy of colonialism in Australia and Aboriginal Australians’ struggles for social justice.  The book was Dingo by Sally Dingo.  It tells the story of the Dingo family from Sally's perspective as a non-Aboriginal woman, who married into the Dingo family.  The book follows several members of the family as they live, travel and work in towns and on stations in Western Australia.  By tracing the trials, tribulations and resilience of the Dingo family, the author exposes the contentious history of Western Australia. 

We also discussed the film, RabbitProof Fence.  This extraordinary film follows the experiences of several Aboriginal children forcibly taken from their parents to be ‘re-educated’ and assimilated into white Australian culture.  Similarly to Dingo, the film showcases a broader part of Australian history through the lives of individual people.  By tracing the personal stories of Molly Craig, Daisy Craig Kadibill, and Gracie Fields, the film tells the story of the stolen generation.  Thousands of ‘half-caste’ children were taken from their families and forced to give up their language and cultural ties. 

The third item we discussed was a filmclip by Jonathan Safran.  In the clip, a group of Aboriginal people approach a house in Melbourne with a sign on it that says ‘We acknowledge the Wurundjeri people as the traditional owners of the land’.  The Aboriginal actors, directed by Safran, tell the tenants of the house that they are there to move in since they saw the sign.  It is supposed to be a comedic attempt to expose white people’s empty rhetoric about reconciliation and justice.  But it misses the mark as the Aboriginal people in this clip come across as pawns in Safran’s joke.  Of course symbolic gestures alone are inadequate to ensure meaningful change.  I don’t know that anyone would argue otherwise, but the easy target of belittling symbolic gestures – such as plaques on buildings, Welcome to Country ceremonies, etc. – does not mean that these gestures are replaced by bolder, more meaningful, action.  It means that they are replaced by the silence that pervades much of non-Aboriginal Australia’s approach to dealing with the history and legacy of oppression that continues today.  It would have been far more interesting to hear from the actors themselves and their take on the signs, their part in the clip, and Safran’s attempt.  This would have, no doubt, contained a range of responses spanning both comedy and tragedy.  Increasing the range and scope of Aboriginal voices heard on radio, TV, in movies and in books is long overdue.  Creating the space for people to tell their stories, what they have endured, and how they’ve survived, such as those highlighted in Dingo and Rabbit Proof Fence, are an essential part of achieving social justice.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Book review - ‘Flight Behaviour’ and the ‘Lives of Girls and Women’

Whilst there are many obvious differences between these two novels, there are a few pertinent similarities or connections which make a joint book review interesting. Barbara Kingsolver’s ‘Flight Behaviour’ takes a snap shot of a young woman’s life in rural USA during a freak climate change event: the catastrophically-altered migration path of the beautiful Monarch Butterfly (a fictional but possible event, according to the author’s research). Alice Munro’s ‘The Lives of Girls and Women’, contrastingly, narrates the progression into womanhood of a young woman from rural Canada, in a more gradual, biographical style. The pace and the style of storytelling in the two books are quite different, but similarities arise when we look into how both authors explore the opportunities and expectations placed on these young women in their small country towns.

From the first pages of ‘Flight Behaviour’, Kingsolver depicts her main character, Dellarobia, as being very unhappy with her current life- with its rural poverty, mundane daily chores and uninspiring husband. It is only slowly, throughout the book, however, that we are given to know the circumstances that led Dellarobia to this place in her life. In highschool Dellarobia was hailed as a smart girl, with a bright future and college prospects. These plans were stopped short, though, when she became pregnant in the last year of highschool. With little other options or family support, she married the child’s father and assumed the farm-wife life that was set out for her. Munro’s main character, Del Jordan, similarly, was considered a bright girl, who was expected to go to college and ‘escape’ the country life. Her plans fell short when she became infatuated with a less than supportive boyfriend in her final highschool year and failed to gain a much needed scholarship to college.

The two main similarities between the lives of these two women (apart from their names) are, firstly, the limitations that poverty can place on life choices (eg the need for a scholarship to go to college for Del), and, secondly, the limitations that society’s expectations can place on the lives and roles of women. Despite being intelligent girls with college prospects, both Del Jordan and Dellarobia found their desired futures altered by their relationships with young men. For Dellarobia, pregnancy meant a quick marriage and an automatic assumption that college was no longer an option. For Del Jordan, the expectations of her boyfriend that she was the ‘right’ wife material (eg one who would naturally give up her study time to have lunch with his family etc) meant that she failed her scholarship exams.

While the influence of Del Jordan’s boyfriend’s expectations was certainly more subtle than the influence of family expectation for Dellarobia, both stories explore the way that education (and the future this can bring) is often assumed to be incompatible with the life of a ‘wife’. These two books, then, raise very interesting questions about the ways that society’s norms mould not only the lives of girls and women, but also their own resistance to these pressures. These are themes that, unfortunately, are not confined to small country towns in North America where these two books are set.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Bluestocking Bookclub – 4th August 2013

The second Bluestocking Bookclub get-together will be on Sunday August 4th at 12pm at The Village Bar in Subiaco. We have a book, a film and a documentary this bookclub session. The book is Sally Dingo’s ‘Dingo: The Story of Our Mob’; the film is ‘Rabbit-Proof Fence’; and the documentary is ‘John Safran vs God: episode 2’. Read and watch any of these, and come along on the 4th for some discussion, coffee/lunch and a bit of fun.

12pm Sunday 4th August
The Village Bar at 531 Hay St, Subiaco
RSVP here by Monday 29th July

Dingo: The Story Of Our Mob
Author: Sally Dingo. Book review by

Emerging from her middle-class existence in a sleepy Tasmanian town a young white woman marries a charismatic actor and the turbulent Dingo tribe. Lovingly embraced by her new Aboriginal family, they begin to yarn to her and she begins to write their memories down... This uplifting story, which spans three generations of an Aboriginal family's long struggle to find dignity and worth in a culture not their own, has been embraced by Australians everywhere. …

John Safran vs God – Episode 2
Review and clip provided by the National Film and Sound Archive

John Safran identifies a tendency among left-wing people in inner Melbourne to put signs on their houses acknowledging the Wurundjeri people as the traditional owners of the land. He gets a group of local Aboriginal people (Lou Bennet, Corleen Cooper, Dennis Fisher, Jermaine Hampton, Michael Penrith) to help him test the sincerity of this sentiment.

Rabbit-Proof Fence
Film review by David Stratton

The year is 1931, and, after over 100 years of colonisation ... Governments faced with what they see as a problem with half-caste children, establish a policy of removing such kids from their aboriginal mothers for their own good … [including] three little girls, 14-year-old Molly, her 8-year-old sister, Daisy, and her 10-year-old cousin, Gracie, from their mothers in the community of Jigalong. … The resourceful Molly seizes an opportunity to escape, taking her sister and cousin with her, and the children begin the long journey north, following the rabbit-proof fence, and pursued by an aboriginal tracker and a white policeman. … It's an amazing, true story – and, when we see the real Molly and Daisy, now elderly women, at the end of the film, it's a truly magical moment …  it's an important, and beautifully made, saga which provides plenty of food for thought.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Bluestocking Bookclub 2013

From mid-2013 Bluestocking is running a bimonthly Bookclub. We’ll post up the books 1-2 months in advance and invite everyone to a discussion session at a café on a Sunday morning over coffee. New book suggestions are more than welcome!

The first Bluestocking Bookclub get-together will be on Sunday June 9th at 9:30am at Cranked café in Leederville. The books to read are: Barbara Kingsolver’s ‘Flight Behavior’ and Alice Munroe’s ‘Lives of Girls and Women’. Read either of these books- or both if you’re feeling adventurous – and come along on the 9th for some discussion, coffee/tea and a bit of fun.

9:30am Sunday 9th June
Cranked café at 106 Oxford St, Leederville
RSVP here by Monday 3rd June
See below for more information on the books, and post your own comments about the books!

Flight Behavior
by Barbara Kingsolver

Flight Behavior takes on one of the most contentious subjects of our time: climate change. With a deft and versatile empathy Kingsolver dissects the motives that drive denial and belief in a precarious world. …

Dellarobia Turnbow is a restless farm wife who gave up her own plans when she accidentally became pregnant at seventeen. Now, after a decade of domestic disharmony on a failing farm, she has settled for permanent disappointment but seeks momentary escape through an obsessive flirtation with a younger man. As she hikes up a mountain road behind her house to a secret tryst, she encounters a shocking sight: a silent, forested valley filled with what looks like a lake of fire. She can only understand it as a cautionary miracle, but it sparks a raft of other explanations from scientists, religious leaders, and the media. The bewildering emergency draws rural farmers into unexpected acquaintance with urbane journalists, opportunists, sightseers, and a striking biologist with his own stake in the outcome. As the community lines up to judge the woman and her miracle, Dellarobia confronts her family, her church, her town, and a larger world, in a flight toward truth that could undo all she has ever believed.”

“Lives of Girls and Women
by Alice Munro

[A]n insightful, honest book, ‘autobiographical in form but not in fact’, that chronicles a young girl's growing up in rural Ontario in the 1940's.

Del Jordan lives out at the end of the Flats Road on her father's fox farm, where her most frequent companions are an eccentric bachelor family friend and her rough younger brother. When she begins spending more time in town, she is surrounded by women- her mother, an agnostic, opinionated woman who sells encyclopaedias to local farmers; her mother's boarder, the lusty Fern Dogherty; and her best friend, Naomi, with whom she shares the frustrations and unbridled glee of adolescence. Through these unwitting mentors and in her own encounters with sex, birth, and death, Del explores the dark and bright sides of womanhood. All along she remains a wise, witty observer and recorder of truths in small-town life. The result is a powerful, moving, and humorous demonstration of Alice Munro's unparalleled awareness of the lives of girls and women.”