Call for Papers: Working Class Studies Conference in Chicago in June

The 2011 conference of the Working-Class Studies Association will be June 22-25 at the University of Illinois’ conference center in Chicago, just southwest of the Loop at 750 S. Halsted Street.  Dormitory rooms will be available nearby and public transportation, readily available from both airports.  The conference will open with a special event Wednesday evening, June 22, followed by three full days of panels, workshops, and plenaries.

Though plans are still developing, the Call for Papers is attached below, with a January 10 deadline for submissions.  Please circulate the Call widely in your various academic disciplines and to anyone you think will be interested.

See you in June in Chicago,

Jack Metzgar for the Chicago Center for Working-Class Studies


The Chicago Center for Working Class Studies

Hosts the 2011 conference of the

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


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.  The Working Class Studies Conference Site is here.


School of Labor & Employment Relations, University of Illinois

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

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


China and the New World Order – Noam Chomsky in In These Times



Views » October 5, 2010 » Web Only

China’s Growing Independence and the New World Order

By Noam Chomsky

  • Chinese leaders are unlikely to be impressed by such [U.S. warnings], the language of an imperial power desperately trying to cling to authority it no longer has.

Of all the “threats” to world order, the most consistent is democracy, unless it is under imperial control, and more generally, the assertion of independence. These fears have guided imperial power throughout history.

In South America, Washington’s traditional backyard, the subjects are increasingly disobedient. Their steps toward independence advanced further in February with the formation of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, which includes all states in the hemisphere apart from the U.S. and Canada.

For the first time since the Spanish and Portuguese conquests 500 years ago, South America is moving toward integration, a prerequisite to independence. It is also beginning to address the internal scandal of a continent that is endowed with rich resources but dominated by tiny islands of wealthy elites in a sea of misery.

Furthermore, South-South relations are developing, with China playing a leading role, both as a consumer of raw materials and as an investor. Its influence is growing rapidly and has surpassed the United States’ in some resource-rich countries.

More significant still are changes in Middle Eastern arena. Sixty years ago, the influential planner A. A. Berle advised that controlling the region’s incomparable energy resources would yield “substantial control of the world.”

Correspondingly, loss of control would threaten the project of global dominance. By the 1970s, the major producers nationalized their hydrocarbon reserves, but the West retained substantial influence. In 1979, Iran was “lost” with the overthrow of the shah’s dictatorship, which had been imposed by a U.S.-U.K. military coup in 1953 to ensure that this prize would remain in the proper hands.

By now, however, control is slipping away even among the traditional U.S. clients.

The largest hydrocarbon reserves are in Saudi Arabia, a U.S. dependency ever since the U.S. displaced Britain there in a mini-war conducted during World War II. The U.S. remains by far the largest investor in Saudi Arabia and its major trading partner, and Saudi Arabia helps support the U.S. economy via investments.

However, more than half of Saudi oil exports now go to Asia, and its plans for growth face east. The same may be turn out to be true of Iraq, the country with the second-largest reserves, if it can rebuild from the massive destruction of the murderous U.S.-U.K. sanctions and the invasion. And U.S. policies are driving Iran, the third major producer, in the same direction.

China is now the largest importer of Middle Eastern oil and the largest exporter to the region, replacing the United States. Trade relations are growing fast, doubling in the past five years.

The implications for world order are significant, as is the quiet rise of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which includes much of Asia but has banned the U.S.—potentially “a new energy cartel involving both producers and consumers,” observes economist Stephen King, author of Losing Control: The Emerging Threats to Western Prosperity.

In Western policy-making circles and among political commentators, 2010 is called “the year of Iran.” The Iranian threat is considered to pose the greatest danger to world order and to be the primary focus of U.S. foreign policy, with Europe trailing along politely as usual. It is officially recognized that the threat is not military: Rather, it is the threat of independence.

To maintain “stability” the U.S. has imposed harsh sanctions on Iran, but outside of Europe, few are paying attention. The nonaligned countries—most of the world—have strongly opposed U.S. policy toward Iran for years.

Nearby Turkey and Pakistan are constructing new pipelines to Iran, and trade is increasing. Arab public opinion is so enraged by Western policies that a majority even favor Iran’s development of nuclear weapons.

The conflict benefits China. “China’s investors and traders are now filling a vacuum in Iran as businesses from many other nations, especially in Europe, pull out,” Clayton Jones reports in The Christian Science Monitor. In particular, China is expanding its dominant role in Iran’s energy industries.

Washington is reacting with a touch of desperation. In August, the State Department warned that “If China wants to do business around the world it will also have to protect its own reputation, and if you acquire a reputation as a country that is willing to skirt and evade international responsibilities that will have a long-term impact … their international responsibilities are clear”—namely, to follow U.S. orders.

Chinese leaders are unlikely to be impressed by such talk, the language of an imperial power desperately trying to cling to authority it no longer has. A far greater threat to imperial dominance than Iran is China’s refusing to obey orders—and indeed, as a major and growing power, dismissing them with contempt.

This is the second of two columns by Noam Chomsky about China. In These Times published the first, “China and the New World Order,” in September.

© The New York Times News Service/Syndicate

10th Annual Teaching for Social Justice Curriculum Fair November 20, 2010

[Go to this site to find out more about TSJ, the annual fair, to exhibit curriculum that you use in your classroom, or to reserve a table to present resource materials that will be useful for teacchers in classroom situations or elsewhere.  Register to attend and also figure out how you can volunteer. This is a fantastic opportunity that brings hundreds of teachers, parents and students together every year to learn from and inspire each other. Note that the deadline for applications has been extended to November 7 for curriculum exhibits and resource tables. — Lew Rosenbaum]


10th Annual Teaching for Social Justice Curriculum Fair, Nov. 20, 2010!

October 16, 2010 

We are very excited that this November 20, 2010 will be the 10th Annual Teaching for Social Justice Curriculum Fair, sponsored by Teachers for Social Justice (Chicago) and co-sponsored by Rethinking Schools. This year’s theme is “Another Education is Possible, Another World is Necessary!”

In “science fair” format, and completely grassroots volunteer-organized, the Curriculum Fair will provide over 600 educators, activists, parents, youth & community members with a space to share curricula, ideas & resources. We’ll be making friends & building relationships, exploring ideas & projects, connecting our histories & struggles. All in a spirit of social justice and education for liberation.

K-12 Teachers will be on hand with poster-board visuals to discuss their favorite curriculum (please sign up!), local & national organizations will have tables to share relevant resources & books, and community leaders will be facilitating dialogue through a number of workshops on various & vital issues.

And don’t forget the always-uplifting keynote speakers… to be announced soon!

Lunch is provided for all, to sustain us as we move through our day. Live art, paintings & banners from local movement artists will inspire & amaze, and there’s even word (or rumor!) of a raucous after party in the mix…

We hope you’ll help us shape this space to be accessible for people with disabilities, accommodating to folks with language & dietary needs, and safe for all folks to be their full selves.

Register, volunteer, come to a meeting! We’ll appreciate you dearly! Click here for more!