An unceasing discipline: debt, deportation and digital labour in Tijuana, Mexico
This presentation considers the convergence of debt, deportation and digital labour in Tijuana, Mexico by describing the making of a labour force working on the frontlines of transnational debt collection. Multiple forms of migration are crucial within this process of class formation, but a continuum of disciplinary and carceral logics also unite the different moments of this labour force’s constitution, including criminalization, detention, deportation and, finally, submission to a panoptic workplace regime for a wage.
To theorize the intersection between debt, migration and digital labour, this presentation describes three overlapping, converging and expanding forms of migration: debt migration, or the circulation of consumer credit through markets for, or processes of, debt collection; virtual migration (Aneesh, 2004) or the outsourcing of call centre work to offshore locations and the return migration of call centre workers in the labour process; and forced migration, or the deportation of undocumented migrants.
The presentation will suggest this case study demonstrates the manner in which a digital and highly financialized variant of capitalism is evolving to develop a multi-faceted and opportunistic relationship with the growing trends of migration and deportation, valourizing the disciplining and expulsion of surplus populations and integrating forms of proletarian cultural identity into the labour process.
Finally, this lecture will explore how the overlap between migration, repression and a highly informational labour process does not exhaust the resistant capacities of this new workforce, which, even as it experiences its abject condition, expresses a perpetual and familiar search for autonomy.
About Enda Brophy
Enda Brophy teaches in the School of Communication and is an associate in Labour Studies at Simon Fraser University. He is the author of Language Put to Work: The Making of the Global Call Centre Workforce, which won book of the year awards from the Canadian Association of Work and Labour Studies, and the Canadian Communication Association in 2018.
He has translated numerous works by Italian scholars, including Gigi Roggero’s The Production of Living Knowledge: Crisis of the University and Transformation of Labor in Europe and North America and Giovanna Franca Dalla Costa’s The Work of Love: Unpaid Housework, Poverty and Sexual Violence at the Dawn of the 21st Century.