The Social Life of Trade Union Politics in Argentina

I will discuss my recent ethnographic work on the ethical lives and collective political action of two unions of state employees in Argentina. I examine how activists in both unions create themselves as particular kinds of militants and forms of political community, and argue that these processes lie at the heart of the unions' strength in contemporary Argentina, which is maintained even in the face of the newly elected right wing regime. I place the lived experience of political activism into historical relief and show how ethics and family values deeply inform the process by which political actors are formed, understood, and joined together through collectivism. Since these are also civil servants, the same processes build the Argentine state, as the unionists negotiate for improved working conditions but understand that as a struggle for a better state. Therefore, understandings of the role of the state in public life and of collective political action through unionism co-constitute each other within this group of workers.

  • Dr. Sian Lazar, University of Cambridge
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  • 2017-09-19

The impossible optimization problem

Science and technology education seeks to restructure -- i.e engineer-- the most complex system we know of (the brain), in a way that it incorporates the most complex intellectual capabilities developed by our species (science, technology and mathematics). This is a very challenging engineering problem. Making the problem even more challenging, the reengineering of the cognitive system needs to occur as the brain is going through the extremely complex biological process of development and maturation. Finally, the reengineering of cognition is not direct -- it is mediated by a range of social and other external systems, such as the curriculum, teaching and teachers, textbooks, the classroom, policy, social/economic frameworks, and numerous other factors. Research in science and technology education seeks to optimize this reengineering of cognition, by developing and testing ways to make this complex social engineering process more efficient and smooth. This talk will present one approach to tackle this impossible optimization problem, focusing on Learning Sciences, a recent approach to science and mathematics education research. It will also demo some systems our group has designed to help students gain better competence over formal representations used in science and mathematics.

  • Dr. Sanjay Chandrasekharan, HBCSE, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research
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  • 2017-09-15

Who are the Goldsmiths? Migrant Artisans' Guilds and the Changing Contours of Goldsmithing in India

In India, while gold is a highly regulated and monitored commodity, goldsmithing has been primarily an unregulated economic activity. The paper describes how goldsmithing, which was once a caste-based occupation, gradually shifted towards an occupation based on village networks and regional ties. Our study shows that the bulk of goldsmiths in India belong to certain districts of West Bengal. The multi-sited fieldwork in three states of India suggests that while migration had started from West Bengal in the 1980s after the devastating flood of 1978, large-scale migration for 'gold work' began in the 1990s. With the repeal of the Gold (Control) Act of 1968 in 1990, the gold industry expanded and provided an opportunity to these 'new goldsmiths' to join the work-force. Liberalization, economic restructuring and institutional reforms further impacted the informal goldsmithing economy. In this context, the 'new goldsmiths' from Bengal developed a network of artisans who travelled to different states within India as well as to Nepal and Bangladesh. Referred to as 'gold engineers' in their villages, they brought in remittance, hopes of upward mobility and a new identity. Their work reveals an interesting collocation of traditional guild-like work structure on one hand and introduction of new technology on the other. There has also been a dispute whether goldsmithing was a craft or an industry. The paper will also touch upon the relation between the informal goldsmithing sector and gold consumption patterns in India.

  • Prof. Anindita Chakrabarti, IIT Kanpur
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  • 2017-09-13

Cascading Pedagogy: Developing Critical Consciousness & Transferable Skills Whilst Teaching Gender Studies

In this paper I reflect on my own and my students' experiences within an elective course on Gender Studies to discuss how teachers might reconcile their responsibility for developing students' critical consciousness along with their responsibility for enhancing transferable skills. The course employed a feminist pedagogical approach which involves the use of experiential learning techniques with the aim of creating a community of learners who are committed to equity and social change. For instance, one assignment in the course required students to create and conduct participatory workshops on gender equity for various groups within and outside the university. This assignment enabled students to cascade their learning from the Gender Studies classroom to over one hundred participants in the wider community. Students then reflected on their learning from having facilitated the workshops. Reflecting on my teaching and drawing on students' reflections, I argue that a commitment to feminist pedagogy whilst not always easy to realise, enables students to evolve as autonomous and self-reflexive learners while also developing skills to work in a variety of professional contexts.

  • Dr. Jyothsna Latha Belliappa, Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology
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  • 2017-09-07

Mutual Fund Flows and Fund's Strategic Behavior When Investors Are Inattentive

The paper builds on a simple yet novel idea that the way investors react to the recent mutual fund performance depends largely upon the long-term historical performance of that fund. In particular, I find that investors react more actively to the fund's recent performance in case of the funds with good performance history. I show that these effects are strongest for funds which are likely to attract attentive investors such as funds having more visibility or funds with high entry loads. Next, I show that investors who are less responsive to the fund performance are also less responsive to the changes in fund fees which suggests that investor inattention rather than any other rational decision making process that explains the sluggish capital flows. I build a model which shows how the concentration of attentive investors within fund rise with the historical performance which feeds into more reactive capital flows. I provide evidence that mutual funds are aware of the varying degree of investor responsiveness and they adjust their pricing and portfolio risk to maximize the revenue.

  • Dr. Apoorva Javadekar, Research Director, CAFRAL
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  • 2017-09-04