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"We Are Not Machines!" Foxconn Workers Struggle in China

May  17, 2013
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm


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"We Are Not Machines!" Foxconn Workers Struggle in China

"We Are Not Machines!" Foxconn Workers Struggle in China

The Departments of Anthropology and Social Change and Asian and Comparative Studies would like to invite you to a collaborative event:

As the world's largest contract manufacturer, Foxconn employs more than one million people in China alone. Foxconn workers are the iSlaves who face horrendous conditions while producing communication tools like iPhones and iPads for Apple. In 2012, a series of worker suicides shook the Chinese Foxconn factories and drew worldwide attention. Management promised to improve conditions and increase wages, but the situation has not changed much since: Foxconn accelerated the relocation of factories to the Chinese hinterland, employs student interns as "cheap" labor, covers up work accidents, and still relies on its militaristic management regime.

However, Foxconn workers are far from being passive victims. They have used everyday forms of resistance against the rhythm of the assembly line and have been able to stage strikes in various Foxconn factories around China.

In this talk, a member of the gongchao.org collective will share their research and activity around the struggles of Chinese migrant workers and will use words, photos, and films to present the situation at Foxconn. The discussion will focus on ways to support the iSlaves of Foxconn and relate their struggles to our own.


Gongchao.org was formed in September 2008 as a project for the research and documentation of labor unrest and social movements in China from the perspective of class struggle, migration, and gender. The website offers a selection of analytical texts and workers' stories in English and German. Among the gongchao.org publications are: "Unrest in China" (2007), supplement to the wildcat-magazine; "Dagongmei- Women Workers from China's World-Market Factories tell their Stories" (2008), edited by Pun Ngai and Li Wanwei; T"he Take-off of the 2nd Generation- Gender, Migration, and Class Composition in China" (2010), edited by Pun Ngai, Ching Kwan Lee et al,; and "iSlaves - Exploitation and Resistance at China's Foxconn-Factories" (2013), edited by Pun Ngai et al. (all published in German, with some parts translated into English). Besides writing and translating articles and books, gongchao.org participates in inquiries and interview projects in China and sets up talks and discussions on Workers' Struggles in China in Eastern as well as Western Europe and beyond.

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Photo courtesy of NPR.

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Our understanding of the integral mission of the Institute is distinctive in several key aspects. First, we attempt to integrate worlds of academic and grassroots knowledge. We believe that universities and social sciences are, for the most part, isolated from new practices and new movements, as they keep insisting on concepts and theories that are not adequate to new realities of creation and resistance. On the other side of this gap, activists are in serious need of new theories: theoretical knowledge (s) that can assist them in reflecting analytically on their practices, methods, and strategies for social change. At a moment when education is more then ever in danger of becoming enclosed and commodified, we have an urgent responsibility to defend universities as autonomous and critical places of knowledge production.