(For an archive of events, see here)
Lecture Series: “The Working Subject”
Ilana Gershon & Benjamin Robinson, Conveners
Thursday, Sept. 10: Marc Doussard (UIUC)
“What Comes after the Minimum Wage? The Struggle to Define Good Jobs After Fordism”
4 p.m., Student Building 005
Co-sponsored by the Department of Geography and the College Arts & Humanities Institute
Abstract: Low-wage jobs burden their holders with an extensive set of challenges in addition to inadequate hourly pay. Problems such as just-in-time scheduling, wage theft, and punitive time-and-attendance systems are commonplace in service-sector workplaces, and a staple of organizing campaigns. But they rarely feature in policy advocacy that remains focused on hourly pay rates. Drawing on interviews with striking fast-food workers in Chicago, I interrogate the discrepancy between the demand of a $15 minimum wage and the fuller suite of challenges in low-wage jobs. Wage-centric demands evoke the lost institutional and social arrangements of Fordism, promising a “family” wage or its contemporary analogue. Expanding organizing campaigns to address the fuller range of problems low-wage workers face requires shifting focus from the job to the household, and from current job holdings to long-term labor market trajectories.
Marc Doussard’s research examines urban economic development through changes to footloose and placebound industries. His book Degraded Work (University of Minnesota Press) documents the restructuring of local-serving industries and the paths to upward mobility opened and foreclosed by changing competitive practices. His subsequent work on these industries includes the co-authored study Fast Food, Poverty Wages: The Public Cost of Low-Wage Jobs in the Fast Food Industry, and ongoing research on wage-theft laws, community-labor coalitions outside of large cities, and the national fast food organizing campaign.
Doussard received a B.A. from Columbia College, and his M.U.P.P. and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he was long-time associate of the Center for Urban Economic Development. His past and current research partners include EnterpriseWorks, Fast Food Forward, the Service Employees International Union, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, the United Food and Commercial Workers, UNITE HERE!, the Humboldt Park Chamber of Commerce, Women Employed, Action Now, Local First Chicago, the Illinois Department of Revenue and the U.S. Department of Defense.
Friday, Oct. 23: Walter Benn Michaels (UIC)
2 p.m., College Arts & Humanities Institute (1211 E. Atwater Avenue)
Co-sponsored by the departments of English and Cultural Studies, and the College Arts & Humanities Institute
Walter Benn Michaels will join the Theory Center’s reading group at CAHI.
Bio: Walter Benn Michaels, a literary theorist and head of the English department at UIUC, has just completed a new book, The Beauty of a Social Problem; Photography, Autonomy and Political Economy, forthcoming in Spring 2015 from the University of Chicago Press. A public intellectual, he has published in the New Left Review, LA Review of Books, London Review of Books among others. His other books include The Trouble with Diversity: How We Learned to Love Identity and Ignore Inequality (2006), The Shape of the Signifier: 1967 to the End of History (2004), Our America: Nativism, Modernism, and Pluralism (1995), and The Gold Standard and the Logic of Naturalism (1987).
Friday, Oct. 30: Kathi Weeks (Duke)
10:30 a.m., College Arts & Humanities Institute (1211 E. Atwater Avenue)
Co-sponsored by the Department of Cultural Studies and the College Arts & Humanities Institute
Kathi Weeks will also join the Theory Center’s reading group at CAHI later that afternoon.
Bio: Kathi Weeks teaches in the Women’s Studies Program at Duke University. Her primary interests are in the fields of political theory, feminist theory, Marxist thought, the critical study of work, and utopian studies. She is the author of The Problem with Work: Feminism, Marxism, Antiwork Politics and Postwork Imaginaries (Duke University Press, 2011) and Constituting Feminist Subjects (Cornell University Press, 1998), and a co-editor of The Jameson Reader (Blackwell, 2000).
Friday, Nov. 13: Jakob Norberg (Duke)
“Anti-Capitalist Affect: Georg Lukacs on Hate.”
4 p.m., College Arts & Humanities Institute (1211 E. Atwater Avenue)
Co-sponsored by the College Arts & Humanities Institute
Bio: Jakob Norberg is Andrew W. Mellon Assistant Professor of German at Duke University. His first book is Sociability and Its Enemies: German Political Theory After 1945. His articles on modern German literature and political thought have appeared in Arcadia, Cultural Critique, PMLA, Telos, Textual Practice and other journals.
Thursday, Dec. 3: David Henkin (Berkeley)
“Welcome to the Working Week: Rhythms and Regimes in Nineteenth-Century America”
5:30 p.m., College Arts & Humanities Institute (1211 E. Atwater Avenue)
Co-sponsored by the departments of Cultural Studies and Religious Studies, and the College Arts & Humanities Institute
Bio: David M. Henkin is Professor of History at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of City Reading, The Postal Age, and, with Rebecca McLennan, a forthcoming introduction to American history.
Friday, February 26: Lilly Irani (UC San Diego)
(lecture title to be announced)
2 p.m., Wells Library 031
Co-sponsored by the Rob Kling Center for Social Informatics and the College Arts & Humanities Institute
Bio: Lilly Irani is an Assistant Professor of Communication at University of California, San Diego. Her research investigates the cultural politics of high-tech work practices with a focus on how actors produce “innovation” cultures. She works on these questions through two sites: entrepreneurial development efforts in India and the Amazon data processing outsourcing site Mechanical Turk. She also sometimes collaboratively design, build, and maintain software (Turkopticon, Dynamo) as a means of understanding digitally mediated forms of work and their relationship to technological forms.
Thursday, March 31: William Forbath (UT Austin)
(lecture title to be announced)
4 p.m., Law School, Faculty Conference Room 335
Co-sponsored by the Center for Law, Culture and Society, and the the College Arts & Humanities Institute
Bio: Professor Forbath came to Texas in 1997 after more than a decade on the faculties of law and history at UCLA. Among the nation's leading legal and constitutional historians, he is the author of Law and the Shaping of the American Labor Movement (Harvard, 1991), the forthcoming The Constitution of Opportunity (Harvard, 2015, with Joseph Fishkin) and dozens of articles, book chapters, and essays on legal and constitutional history and theory. His scholarly work appears in Yale Law Journal, Harvard Law Review, Stanford Law Review, Law and Social Inquiry, and the Journal of American History; his journalism atPolitico.com and in the New York Times, American Prospect and The Nation. His current research concerns social and economic rights in the courts and social movements of the Southern Hemisphere, and Jews, law and identity politics in the Progressive Era. Professor Forbath visited at Columbia Law School in 2001-02 and at Harvard Law School in 2008-09. He is on the Editorial Boards of Law & History, Law & Social Inquiry: Journal of the American Bar Foundation, and other journals, and on the Board of Directors of the American Society for Legal History, Texas Low-Income Housing Information Services, and other public interest organizations.
For older events, see here.