Beyond elitism: The possibilities of labour-centred development in Latin America

The ‘pink tide’ in Latin America is drawing increasing criticisms from the political left for its inability to confront existing socio-structural inequalities. In this talk Benjamin Selwyn contributes to discussions on the future for human development in Latin America by advocating a new paradigm in development theory and practice, which it labels Labour Centred Development (LCD). Selwyn argues that collective actions by labouring classes can generate tangible developmental gains – materially and organisationally - for their members and their communities. While Elite Development Theories represent one form or other of the political economy of capital, Selwyn argues that LCD represents varieties of the political economy of labour.  He provides empirical examples of LCD in Latin America, past and present -  ranging from workers in the Cordones Industriales in Chile in the early 1970s, to workers in export agriculture and the landless labourer’s movement across Brazil, to various forms of unemployed worker’s movements in Argentina. Selwyn concludes by considering prospects for further forms of LCD. 

Benjamin Selwyn is Senior Lecturer in International Relations and International Development, and the Director of the Centre for Global Political Economy at the University of Sussex, UK. He conducted field work in North East Brazil throughout the 2000’s. He works at the intersection of International Political Economy, Economic Geography and International Development. His publications include Workers, State and Development in Brazil (Manchester University Press: 2012),The Global Development Crisis (Polity: 2014), and 21st Century International Political Economy: A Class-Relational Perspective (European Journal of International Relations, 2015). His research focuses on global development and in particular on the seeming paradox of global capitalism’s simultaneous generation of mass wealth and widespread poverty.


Date & time

Thu 19 Nov 2015, 12am


Marija Taflaga
02 6125 2462


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