Lyophilisation

I promised myself that I wouldn’t garden, read for pleasure or write until I have finished editing the next issue of the journal, but here I am with two articles left to go having already broken the first two promises (albeit only briefly)  and, feeling in need of some temporary distraction, now breaking the third.
This issue is already much delayed, I am ashamed to say,  mainly because of a series of illnesses (my own and others’) and bereavements over the last few months that have sapped my time and energy, but also partly because its theme is a particularly challenging one: the relationship between financialisation, corporate restructuring and the casualisation of employment.
Last night I finished editing an article by Ricardo Antunes, translated from the Portuguese, which used a number of words that hardly exist in colloquial English. One of these was ‘lyophilisation’ which, after some research, I discovered is the name of the process used for freeze-drying (anything from blood plasma to coffee). It is a key concept in his analysis and, I realised, an apt and striking metaphor for the way global companies now treat labour: a commodity to be stored away and only used the instant it is needed – ready to use, skills and all, with only the need to add the equivalent of hot water to be fully activated. It is so arresting an image, indeed, that, with the author’s approval of course, I have changed the title of the article to include it. Watch out too for an important piece by Claude Serfarti on the way that ‘industrial’ trans-national corporations increasingly behave like financial ones. There are also fascinating articles (to me, anyway) from the Americas, Australasia, Europe and Africa. Empirical studies of casualised employment range from clothing workers in South Africa to agency doctors and nurses in Finland to cosmetics saleswomen in Brazil. I really hope that readers will find it worth the wait.

cover image

the cover of the next issue

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