Today we speak to Prof. Dr. Christoph Scherrer, a professor of globalization and politics and Executive Director of the International Center for Development and Decent Work at the University of Kassel.
Explain the nature of your work and/or how it relates to inequality.
My field is the International Political Economy with a focus on trade, finance and labor. A key question is a Gramscian one: how do the hierarchical capitalist relations reproduce, what are the mechanisms of capitalist hegemony? In the last couple of years, I have mainly been analysing global exploitation chains, especially but not exclusively in agriculture. Smallholders and landless agricultural workers represent a huge part of the global working population; however, their livelihood and working conditions have received less attention than industrial workers.
Why do you think inequality remains such an intractable social and economic problem?
It is the confluence of the feudal shadow of the past, the dynamics of capitalism resting on the sanctity of private property, and the widely shared moral right of inheritance of different forms of capital.
What continues to keep you engaged in your work or areas of research?
In general, I am driven by my curiosity, the ideal of a society of equals and the prevention of another rise of fascism. As a proto-fascist party is on the rise in Germany, I am considering shifting my focus on issues closer to German politics.
What is one thing your field is not focusing on that it should?
The field of International Political Economy should pay more attention to labor and repression.
Who are some academics (in your field or otherwise) whose work you follow closely? Why?
Most of my time is spent reading graduate students’ papers and theses. I was much informed by Aglietta, Altvater, Esser, Feyerabend, Foucault, Gramsci, Hirsch, Mann, Negri, Poulanzas and van der Pijl. Nowadays, I keep an eye on journal articles from journals such as C&C, CJE, GLJ, RIPE and the German PROKLA.
What books are you currently reading?
Now, in my vacation I have just finished reading two books: One titled: The Hundred Years' War on Palestine by Rashid Khalidi. It is not only interesting for the history it tells but also for its’ style which includes personal accounts. The second is in German about the East German experience under soviet-styled communism and unification by Mau. I hope a translation will soon be available.
Complete the sentence: “The first thing I do each morning once I get up is …”
… to prepare my morning tea and to set up the coffee machine for my wife.
If you are interested in his work, please see his website here: and contact him through: email@example.com
This is an ongoing series of interviews with prominent academics and researchers.