Working-Class Studies Association 2011 Conference

The Chicago Center for Working-Class Studies is hosting the Working-Class Studies Association 2011 Conference

June 22-25
University of Illinois-Chicago
Conference Theme: Working-Class Organization and Power

As an academic field, Working-Class Studies premises that the working class lacks sufficient power in all aspects of modern life – from financial means to means of expression – and that universities and their scholarly disciplines can help redress inequalities of class power by paying consistent attention to working-class life and experience in all its messy diversity. While including all the traditional themes of previous Working-Class Studies Association conferences, the 2011 Chicago conference will highlight working-class organizations, old and new, and will encourage participants to think about organizational means to enhance working-class power over daily life at work and in the community, in democratic politics
and public policy, and in cultural expression.

Plenaries will be organized to draw on current working-class organizational forms with a robust presence in the Chicago area:

  • The immigrant rights movement
  • The living wage movement
  • Union organizing & workers centers
  • Traditional community organizing
  • Churches and working-class spiritual life
  • Workers’ voices and artistic expression

But against this background, we encourage the wild diversity of topics, themes, presentations, and panels that have characterized previous Working-Class Studies conferences. Please try and place your proposal within one of the categories below, as this will help us organize individual presentations into more coherent groups. But as long as your proposal relates to working-class life and experience, don’t hesitate to use the “Other” category at the bottom of our list.

Class in the classroom: teaching about class, students as workers, teaching working-class and middle-class students, working-class academics, class and K-12 education, labor education

Intersections of race, class and gender: race/whiteness studies, gender and class, class and ethnicity, class and sexuality,immigration/migrant workers

Representations of work and workers: class and the arts, working-class history, working-class literature, labor and the body,working-class film, the future of work, working-class humor, media studies/criticism

Class, politics and public policy: inequalities of wealth and voice, working-class political theory, class and electoral politics,class and health care, class and the environment, urban and rural class issues, social movements and class, resistance and transformation, working-class economics

Transnational perspectives on class: war, class and the military, class in a global economy, organizing across borders, labor rights/human rights

Class cultures: the anthropology of class; middle-class, working-class and poverty-class cultures, cross-class alliances,straddlers and cognitive dissonance

Conference theme: working-class organization and power

Other Guidelines for Proposals

Sessions will be 75 minutes, and we will ask presenters to limit their remarks to 15 minutes each so that there is ample time for Q&A and discussion. Proposals may be for one of three forms:

  • Individual presentation, paper, or talk.
  • Panel session or workshop, featuring multiple presenters, proposing jointly.
  • Performance, reading, or screening of creative work.

Proposals should include:

  • Proposed title and a brief (150-word) description
  • Suggested topic category (see list above)
  • Brief biographical statement and contact information, including mailing
  • and e-mail addresses.
  • Technology needs, if any.

Proposals for papers, presentations, and sessions are welcome until January 10, 2011. Notification of acceptance will be made by March 1. Submit proposals electronically to
Inquiries and special requests should be directed to Jack Metzgar at the same e-mail address.

Closer to the event a web site will be available with full information on registration, travel, lodging, and the program as it develops. The site will include information about how to apply for low-income travel grants and reduced registration fees.


School of Labor & Employment Relations, University of Illinois

Illinois Council 31, American Federation of State, County & Municipal

Our Daily Work/Our Daily Lives, Michigan State University

Labor Education Center, DePaul University

Center for Working-Class Studies, Youngstown State University

Mansfield Institute for Social Justice & Transformation, Roosevelt University

American Studies & History, Dominican University

Labor & Working-Class Studies, University of Wisconsin at Madison

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