Event

Of Human Bondage? The denial of slavery in the study of Human Resource Management

The Management and Marketing Group warmly invite you to join Dr Pasi Ahonen and Professor Peter Bloom from the Essex Business School as they discuss the historical linkages between the social production of slaves as "Human resources".

  • Wed 16 Jun 21

    13:00 - 14:00

  • Online

    Join this seminar

  • Event speaker

    Dr Pasi Ahonen and Professor Peter Bloom, Essex Business School, University of Essex

  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars
    Management and Marketing Group (MM) Research Seminar Group

  • Event organiser

    Essex Business School

  • Contact details

    Dr Atika Kemal

The aim of this Management and Marketing (Group) seminar is to explore the discourse of human research management in the contexts of slaves in Southern Plantation economies.

Seminar abstract

This presentation critically explores the historical linkages between the social production of slaves as “human resources” in Southern Plantation economies and contemporary capitalist discourses of human resource management. 

Rather than view these practices as “pre-capitalist” or early examples of “scientific management”, Dr Ahonen and Professor Bloom argue that it is more fruitful to view these instead as a precursor to “human-centred” capitalist management.

In doing so they will refocus attention on the production and reproduction of racial capitalism at the organizational level of the plantation and its internal administration and control linked to political discourses of “good management”. 

Dr Ahonen and Professor Bloom argue, thus, that slavery continues to be “denied” within contemporary human resource management studies and, therefore, management generally.

While current management and organizational scholarship has increasingly “remembered” slavery both as an influential historical and prevalent modern phenomenon, they are also critically forgetting its role for contributing to the sophisticated exploitation and control of “human resources”.

Inadvertently or not, this scholarship reinforces an inaccurate and ethically troubling “progressive narrative” that separates chattel slavery from contemporary “human” approaches and ideologies of employment relations.

Significantly, this article in no way claims that current employees are akin or identical to slaves. Instead, it seeks to point out the resonances, and potential continuities, between the management of slaves as both “human” and “property” with the contemporaneous “human oriented” perspectives and techniques currently used to maximize the economic and organizational value of employees. 

 

Booking

This seminar is free to attend with no need to register in advance.

We warmly invite you to share with your friends, colleagues and classmates.

 

Speaker bios

Dr Pasi Ahonen

Dr. Ahonen joined Essex Business School, University of Essex, as Lecturer in Management in November 2014.

At Essex his academic home is the Management, Marketing and Organisation Subject Group on the Colchester Campus and he is a member of the Centre for Work, Organisation and Society.

He has also worked at the School of Management, Yr Ysgol Reolaeth, Swansea University, Prifysgol Abertawe in Wales Cymru; the Bristol Centre for Leadership and Organizational Ethics, Bristol Business School, the University of the West of England, and the School of Business at Lappeenranta University of Technology in Finland. Over the years, he has studied, for varying lengths of time, at Lappeenranta University of Technology, University of Victoria (Canada), University of Saskatchewan (Canada), University of Georgia (USA) and University of Turku (Finland). In 2009-2010 he was a Visiting Scholar at Laurentian University (Canada). Outside of academia he has worked for a Finnish location technology SME in London, UK, and in regional development in Southeastern Finland.

Professor Peter Bloom

Professor Peter Bloom is a Professor of Management at the University of Essex.

His research critically explores the radical possibilities of technology for redefining and transforming contemporary work and society.

It focuses on better understanding the human aspects of organizational existence and the potentially for constructing more empowering cultural paradigms for organising the economy and politics.

Specifically, his research originally reveals the strong relationship between economic marketization and political authoritarianism, the “dark side” of workplace empowerment discourses and the role of technology for changing organisations and processes of organising.

He received his PhD from the University of Essex in 2009 in Government (Ideology and Discourse Analysis).

Prior to coming to the EBS, he was a Senior Lecturer and Head of the Department of People and Organisations at the Open University as well as the Co-Founder of the research group REEF (Research into Employment, Empowerment, and Futures).

His books include;

  • Authoritarian Capitalism in the Age of Globalization (Edward Elgar Press),
  • Beyond Power and Resistance: Politics at the Radical Limits (Rowman and Littlefield International, November 2016),
  • The Ethics of Neoliberalism: The Business of Making Capitalism Moral (Routledge, 2017),
  • The Bad Faith in the Free Market: The Radical Promise of Existential Freedom (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018),
  • The CEO Society: How the Cult of Corporate Leadership Transform Our World co-written Carl Rhodes (Zed Books).

His scholarly work has also been published in leading international journals such as;

  • Human Relations, Organization,
  • Theory and Event,
  • Journal of Political Ideologies,
  • Journal of Political Power,
  • New Formations,
  • Research on the Sociology of Organization,
  • Culture and Organizations,
  • Ephemera, Journal of Organizational Change Management,
  • Organization and International Journal of Žižek Studies.

His writing has been additionally featured in top international and national media outlets such as The Washington Post, The Guardian, and The Independent, The New Statesmen, The Week, The Conversation and Open Democracy among others.

Recently, he has served as the lead academic on a range of BBC programmes including “The Bottom Line” on Radio 4, the “Can Britain Have a Pay Raise” aired on BBC2 and most recently the two part television documentary “The Secrets of Silicon Valley”.

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