Working Groups are designed to catalyze collaboration between individuals from different disciplines, locations, and UC campuses around a specific problem, theme, object or topic within the larger theme of the humanities and changing conceptions of work.
Each Working Group, with assistance from UCHRI, will host a public forum pairing participating faculty in conversation with a public intellectual or popular writer whose work has addressed the changing nature of work in ways that illuminate or engage with the topic of their Working Group. These events will be taped and archived online for consultation or teaching purposes.
Each Working Group includes a graduate scholar who will participate in the work of the group as well as blog about Working Group discussions and activities.
Social media has become a powerful means for connecting people and supporting social movement organizing. At the same time, rapid technological change, globalization and volatile competitive conditions have contributed to growing insecurity in work, in which the workplace is less frequently a site of long-term stability and collective conceptions of work have been eroded as a basis for solidarity. As a result, on-line solidarity networks have rarely focused on work, while traditional labor organizations have rarely been innovators in their use of social media.
This working group will focus on exceptions, particularly in transportation and food chain industries, where social media have been powerful tools for connecting people around labor issues across multiple and disparate places. What are the conceptions of work that underpin these new formations of labor solidarity, and how do they compare with formations of solidarity amongst similar insecure workers in the past? What role do social media play in shaping the nature of solidarity within these labor networks, and how do these roles differ from more traditional media in the past? At the intersection of history, media studies, and labor organizing, this working group will bring new insights to our understanding of shifting conceptions of work and solidarity.
Chris Benner, Human and Community Development, UC Davis
Jesse Drew, Cinema & Technocultural Studies, UC Davis
Globalization and technology have transformed labor; what roles do music, literature, fashion, and food have in the contemporary life of the worker who produces, distributes, and consumes them? While traditional explorations of class have long begun with a Marxist model emphasizing institutional formations of resistance, the new working class studies model calls for a broader understanding of work and class, looking at “how class works for people at work, at home, and in the community.” Understanding class as a subjective position as well as an economic position is particularly relevant to work in California’s central valley since it opens working class studies to a wider range, one that includes economics but in its curiosity about daily life and subjectivity, material culture.
Focusing on this site of exploration, this work group will reformulate California studies by intersecting with a new concept of labor studies - an intersection that allows us to rethink both. Our focus on cultural expression by the working class in the central valley revolves around a mix of the contemporary and historical, allowing a range of UC scholars to work at defining a new cutting edge of labor, working class and cultural studies, an intersection made especially rich through material culture in this diverse and understudied region of California.
Jan Goggans, Social Sciences, Humanities, Arts, UC Merced
This working group will bring together a group of scholars from the humanities and humanistic social sciences who work at the intersection of food studies and labor to critically examine how food-related activities challenge categories and practices pertaining to labor such as service, profit, desire, pleasure, and leisure. Potential topics to be addressed include distinctions and relationships between work and leisure, work and voluntarism, economic capital and cultural capital, utilitarianism and aestheticism, and profit and pleasure. Conversations will be deliberately cross-disciplinary, cross-cultural, and transhistorical, and will engage both empirical and theoretical materials. Ultimately, the cross-fertilization of these approaches will contribute new forms of scholarship, teaching, and mentoring.
Photo credit: griid.org
Melissa L. Caldwell, Anthropology, UC Santa Cruz
The working group will explore the relations between the changing economy, changing meanings of work, and the changing labor force by addressing a central animating question: how does WHO does the work affect the conceptions of work itself? The group will examine the topic by focusing on a particular type of work: “immigrant work” and a particular locus of labor: immigrant workers in California. The working group will explore immigrant work and workers across a broad range of historical periods in California as well as from multiple disciplinary perspectives and methodologies. Most generally, the working group will address the theme of the humanities and the changing conceptions of work by highlighting the roles work and the workplace play in the quest for human dignity. The working group will convene two workshops, culminating in a larger workshop or conference on the theme of immigrant work and a scholarly collective publication. The working groups will also develop an interactive online space to facilitate on-going communication, as well as to serve as an online, publicly available repository for teaching, research and educational materials concerning immigrant work.
Steven McKay, Sociology, UC Santa Cruz; Director of the UC Santa Cruz Center for Labor Studies
Eva Bertram, Politics, UC Santa Cruz
David Brundage, History, UC Santa Cruz
Catherine Ceniza Choy, Ethnic Studies and Asian American Studies, UC Berkeley
Dana Frank, History, UC Santa Cruz
Gilbert G. Gonzalez, Chicano/Latino Studies, UC Irvine
Evelyn Nakano Glenn, Ethnic Studies and Asian American Studies, UC Berkeley
L.S. Kim, Film and Digital Media, UC Santa Cruz
Shannon Marie Gleeson, Latin American and Latino Studies, UC Santa Cruz
Mario Sifuentez, School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts, UC Merced
Megan McNamara Abed, Sociology, UC Santa Cruz
Increasingly, members of the working and middle classes feel excluded as economic agents in a society shaped by globalization and technological innovation, by massive unemployment and a devastated housing market, by deepening social inequities and the truncation of public resources. In social, political and psychological terms, those who are unemployed experience themselves as marginal to an economy that rests on waged labor, commodity markets, and capitalist enterprise. For these reasons, citizens, community activists and activist academics around the country have begun to seek solutions at the local level to economic and social problems that seem intransigent in a national context. Their goal is the conceptualization and mobilization of alternative economies that can support forms of work that are creative, innovative, productive, collaborative—and committed to social justice. Strategies and forms of knowledge that humanists have defined can be particularly effective in helping to advance this kind of effort. They are pivotal in the conception of "Santa Cruz Commons: Activist Research and the Public Humanities." The project's Work Group will consider how humanists can help to create such an alternative economy, redefining the meaning of work and exploring the influence of a social movement on the formation and experience of subjectivity.
Nancy Chen, Anthropology, UC Santa Cruz
Sharon Daniel, Film & Digital Media and Digital Arts & New Media, UC Santa Cruz
George Lipsitz, Black Studies and Sociology, UC Santa Barbara
Helene Moglen, Literature, UC Santa Cruz
Michael J. Montoya, Anthropology, Chicano/Latino Studies, Public Health and Nursing Science, UC Irvine
Jason Alley, Anthropology, UC Santa Cruz
This working group explores the social relations of precarious labor, both formal and informal, from an interdisciplinary, global, and intersectional approach that considers how sociocultural inequalities are and have been magnified and countered during times of financial crises, technological development, and increasing unemployment. Attentive to social contexts that shape, even as they are shaped by, constructs of gender, ethnicity, race, sexuality, ability, age, and citizenship, it considers categorical questions of what counts as work and who counts as a worker from feminist, ethnic, and cultural studies perspectives. We bring to the conversation insights from the humanities sometimes missing from investigations of the informal sector and too often ignored in discussions of the global economic and employment crisis. A website containing scholarly essays and teaching modules will represent the major deliverable. Participants will create a module based on their research area. We envision this website as a living resource that can be added to and will be maintained by UCSB's Center for Research on Women and Social Justice or another appropriate open access site. Our purpose is three-fold: to stimulate theoretical and empirical research, encourage creation of additional modules, and model a practice of scholarship that is both collective and accessible.
Eileen Boris, Feminist Studies; Director of the Center of Research on Women and Social Justice, UC Santa Barbara
Lalaie Ameeriar, Asian American Studies, UC Santa Barbara
Maurizia Boscagli, English, UC Santa Barbara
Piya Chatterjee, Gender and Women’s Studies, Scripps College
Fatima El-Tayeb, African-American Literature and Culture and Critical Gender Studies, UC San Diego
Aisha Finch, Women’s Studies and Afro-American Studies, UCLA
Noah Zatz, UCLA School of Law
Christopher Newfield, English, UC Santa Barbara
Kalindi Vora, Ethnic Studies, UC San Diego
Tiffany Willoughby-Herard, African American Studies, Women’s Studies and Queer Studies, UC Irvine
Leigh Dodson, Feminist Studies, UC Santa Barbara