Hybrid Talk: The Evolving Political Economy of Labor in China & Indonesia
Wed, 09/15/2021 - 4:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

A Hybrid* Discussion and Q&A co-sponsored by
 the Center for Global Work and Employment

Great Transformations, Momentary Lapses, or Accidents of History?
The Evolving Political Economy of Labor in China and Indonesia

Featuring: William Hurst, Chong Hua Professor of Chinese Development at the University of Cambridge


*In-person attendance at the Labor Education Center (Room 115) is limited to 25 seats; please indicate via the Zoom registration form if you’d like to attend in person. Zoom attendance is unlimited but registration is required.

Abstract | 75 years ago, Karl Polanyi analyzed the Great Transformation in Europe that ushered in the genesis of industrial capitalism. This talk explores the tremendous changes that China and Indonesia have undergone since the 1970s through the lens of Polanyi’s repertoire. Neither country has followed a strictly linear trajectory, however, nor has either adhered clearly or consistently to the logic of commodification and double-movements Polanyi uncovered in Europe – and especially in England – between about 1650 and 1930.

As the presentation will show, developments in Indonesia and China can be conceptualized in three distinct periods, each with their own political, economic, and social dynamics. These periods are specific to each country, meaning that cross-national comparisons can generate insights, but not ready covering laws. Looking ahead, the next several years may prove to be a critical juncture for both of these giants, helping establish new trajectories that may well shape political, economic, and social change for decades to come.   The presentation will be followed by Q&A.

Speaker: Professor William Hurst, University of Cambridge

Image of William HurstWilliam Hurst is the Chong Hua Professor of Chinese Development in the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Cambridge, where he is also Director of the Centre of Development Studies, Deputy Director of the Centre for Geopolitics, and a Fellow of Wolfson College.

He works mostly on the politics of labor, law, and land in China and Indonesia and has examined these topics from perspectives in political economy, institutional analysis, law and society, and contentious politics and social movements.

Hurst is the author of Ruling Before the Law: The Politics of Legal Regimes in China and Indonesia (Cambridge 2018) and The Chinese Worker after Socialism (Cambridge 2009), in addition to four edited volumes, more than two dozen journal articles and book chapters, and over twenty essays, op-eds, and shorter pieces.  He is currently at work on a book that will explore the politics of land and land reform, as well as their long-run implications for state formation and political economy, in Mainland China, Taiwan, Indonesia, and Malaysia since 1945. Before coming to Cambridge in 2021, Hurst worked for eight years as associate professor and professor of political science at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.