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The Minerals-Energy Complex, MEC, and Comparative Industrialisation Working Group

Whilst the MEC was first put forward as a way of understanding the character and trajectory of the South African economy, it has been associated with broader issues such as the nature of specific systems of accumulation, national or otherwise, and with comparative study of industrialization. Consequently, this conference stream intends both to explore the continuing relevance of the MEC as a way of specifying the South African economy and to locate such analysis in a comparative context. There will be six panels, briefly introduced below. For each panel, proposals for papers are welcome although each of the panels also may be filled out by invited papers, especially from those who are members of the Working Group. Some of the panels below may extend to more than one session (there is a maximum of nine panels for a stream). Those papers for which there is not room within the stream will be considered as general submissions to the conference.

Panel: Reconstructing Labour

Session 7 — Track 4 — Room 4.14 — 15:15-16:45

Not only with orthodoxy, as human resource management has displaced industrial relations, but also more generally, the role of labour has increasingly, other than possibly as an imperfect market agent, been neglected as neoliberalism has itself encouraged us to look critically at what capital does, as opposed to labour. This has also been true of understandings of the MEC despite its history of compound and racialised labour and the startling events attached to Marikana and their corresponding underlying causes. The conflicts between labour and capital, and the different forms they take, reflect the underlying social relations of production that constitute capitalism. The nature of these conflicts is framed by, but also influences, the industrialisation and accumulation patterns of a particular political economy setting.  Yet, as observed, labour is often treated as an abstract and homogenous entity and reduced to a passive and depoliticised role whereas this needs to be traced from production itself, narrowly conceived, through to economic and social reproduction as a totality. Exploring the specific labour dynamics in different sectors and settings, not least at the heart of the ‘hidden abode of production’, can help raise appreciation of: the importance and role of labour in the capitalist development process; and the connections between the labour process(es) and the nature and reproduction/transformation of the underlying/associated accumulation structures.

Lotta Takala-Greenish and Nicolas Pons-Vignon, Searching for the Missing Link in Economic Development: Productive Relations under Stress in South Africa
Abstract   Full Paper

Karin Astrid Siegmann, The political economy of labour regulation in India – the case of the Tiruppur garment cluster
Abstract    Full Paper

Mbuso Nkosi, The Changing Working Conditions in Commercial Agriculture in South Africa: A Case Study of Horticulture
Abstract   Full Paper


Panel: Comparative Industrialisation I

Session 6 — Track 4 — Room 4.14 — 13:30-15:00

South Africa’s industrialisation is deemed to have taken particular forms over time as a result of the nature and influence of its MEC. This panel will seek to draw upon the MEC understanding of South Africa by drawing out broader implications for understanding particular systems of accumulation over time in specific countries or sectors, and as part of a global political economy. Individual case studies will be welcome irrespective of whether they draw directly upon comparison with South Africa or deal with South Africa itself exclusively.

Simon Roberts, Lotta Takala-Greenish, Basani Baloyi and Gerald Mfongeh,  Understanding Regional Industrial Development and its Drivers – an exploration of the theoretical debates in the light of case study evidence from Southern Africa
Abstract Full Paper

Fachru Nofrian, Process of Development and Industrialisation in Indonesia and its Comparison to China and India
Abstract Full Paper


Panel: Comparative Industrialisation II: Energy and Industrialisation

Session 10 — Track 4 — Room 4.14 — 14:15-16:15

Lucy Baker, MEC and the green economy: rising powers and renewable energy
Abstract   Full Paper

Max Spoor, Energy Bonanza and Unsustainable Russian Growth The Political Economy of a Petro-State
Abstract   Full Paper

Regnault Blas, Neither a Blessing nor a Curse: Oil Rent as a Natural Resource Income for Development
Abstract   Full Paper


Panel: From Kimberly to Marikana: Tracing and Tracking the MEC

Session 9 — Track 4 — Room 4.14 — 10:45-12:45

The massacre by police of 34 striking miners at Marikana on 16th August 2012 – the largest use of force by the security forces since 1994 – reveals the sharp contradictions of South Africa’s system of accumulation and how many features of the apartheid period are being reproduced. The issues raised by the Marikana massacre, and the strike wave of which it was part, include general and specific features of the political economy of South Africa, of industrial relations, of economic and social reproduction, and of the politics of the triple alliance. This panel will assess how these events critical reflect the political economy of post-apartheid South Africa, not least across the core of the MEC.

Ben Fine, Policy Perspectives for Post-Apartheid South Africa in Light of Its MEC
Abstract   Full Paper

Samantha Ashman and Susan Newman, Industrial policy and South Africa’s economic trajectory: from apartheid to present day
Abstract   Full Paper

Sam Ashman, Marikana and the MEC
Abstract  Full Paper

Peter Alexander, What Happened at Marikana?
Abstract   Full Paper