The United States, it appears, is undergoing a massive economic restructuring. After decades of growth centered on Wall Street, personal debt and service labor, the U.S. economy seems to have crumbled under its own weight. Now that the failure of the financial sector has made another chunk of the American middle class anxious, widening gaps between the rich and the poor leave the state unequipped to provide a safety net for those falling into poverty for the first time in a generation. Worse, large employers in all sectors of the economy, from Ford to Big Ten Universities, are using the economic crisis as an opportunity to bust unions and erode employee benefits. Studies of class, labor and the impossible American Dream are underfunded at the precise moment historical perspective may be the most needed.
We invite graduate student papers on topics of any time or place that discuss poor and working people or the systems that produce such inequalities. This year we will focus on the new language scholars must use to address social and economic restructuring. How have similar crises produced new kinds of work, new kinds of organizing labor, and new kinds of repression against workers by the state and corporations? How can we redefine our categories of class in the past to help explain present history to contemporary audiences?
Convening at the University of Illinois for a Friday evening and full day Saturday, April 16 and 17, 2010, the conference-workshop will feature pre-circulated graduate student papers. Presenters are encouraged to prepare a short introduction to their work, but the emphasis of each session will be feedback from the community of scholars. Papers should be 20-25 pages and at a stage where critical feedback is encouraged. Send a C.V, abstract and title to Jason Kozlowski (firstname.lastname@example.org) by March 1. Papers due to Jason in full by April 1, 2010.
PhD Candidate, History
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
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