Dr. Gilbert Gonzales presents his film “Harvest of Loneliness” – January 23

The UC Humanities Working Group on Immigrant Labor and Changing Conceptions of Work is pleased to announce that Gilbert Gonzalez, Professor Emeritus of Chicano/Latino Studies at UC Irvine, will return to UC Santa Cruz on January 23, 2013, to present his award-winning documentary Harvest of Loneliness: The Bracero Program. Dr. Gonzalez was a participant in the Working Group’s workshop in October 2012. Harvest of Loneliness explores the historical accounts of migrant Mexican farm workers brought into the U.S. from 1942-1964 under the temporary contract worker program known as the Bracero Program (click here to read a short interview with Dr. Gonzalez and documentary filmmaker Vivian Price. You can also explore the film’s website). This event is co-sponsored by the UCSC Center for Labor Studies, the UCSC History Department, the UCSC Latin American and Latino Studies Department, Kresge College, and El Centro: Chicana/o-Latina/o Resource Center.

The film showing will be followed by a Q and A session with Dr. Gonzales.

January 23, 2013 – 7 p.m. – UC Santa Cruz – Kresge Town Hall

Inaugural Workshop – Working Group on Immigrant Labor and Changing Conceptions of Work

After months of planning and preparation, the UCHRI (UC Institute for Humanities Research) Working Group on Immigrant Labor and Changing Conceptions of Work held its inaugural workshop at UC Santa Cruz on October 13, 2012. A full day of programming included the presentation of eight new texts (including one film) on ethical issues, labor processes, and new trends in immigrant labor.

Bringing together working group members from UC Irvine, UC Merced, UC Santa Cruz, UC Berkeley, and special resource scholars Rhacel Parrenas (University of Southern California) and Cindy Hahamovitch (College of William and Mary), workshop participants explored such diverse topics as the Bracero Program, wages and working conditions in a bagged lettuce plant, discourses of advocacy in immigrant rights organizations, and masculinities among Filipino seafarers. Click here to see the full program.

In the tradition of public scholarship, the working group will distribute a series of resources based on the workshop, including video recordings of the paper presentations and ensuing discussions, and various teaching materials on the topic of immigrant labor. We intend to have the first of these resources posted within a couple of weeks – please bookmark this page and check back for further!

Introducing the UC IHR Working Group: Changing Conceptions of Work

We are pleased to announce the formation of a new UC-wide working group: Immigrant Labor and Changing Conceptions of Work. The working group is sponsored by the UC Institute for Humanities Research, and includes participants from a variety of disciplines and four UC campuses.

Work has long been a key source of human dignity, a central way we realize self-worth and respect. Yet even as we spend the bulk of our lives working, the rewards remain contradictory: while work can provide fulfillment and identity, it can also deliver stigma and alienation. The world of work has only become more complex given the contemporary juggernauts of technological change, globalization and economic restructuring. As these pressures disrupt old patterns of what work gets done and where, debates rage about the scope and meanings of such developments. While some argue that this “brave new world of work” creates new opportunities and paths of mobility for some, other caution that it ushers in greater risk and precarity.

However, often lost in the discussions of the changing workplace is the crucial role workers themselves play in the changing conceptions of work. As scholars of labor and labor markets remind us, the meaning of work and how it is valued cannot be divorced from those that perform it (Tilly and Tilly 1998). It is therefore important to take into account how group difference and inequality formed outside the workplace interact with meaning-making and divisions of labor at work. For example, in the US, women and racialized minorities were historically channeled into the least desirable jobs or even unfree labor, a process that reproduced their devalued social positions and overall inequality (Nakano Glenn 2002).

Our working group, consisting of scholars from the humanities, arts, and interpretive social sciences, will explore the relations between the changing structures and conditions of employment, the changing meanings and conceptions of work, and the changing labor force.

We will be holding a workshop at UC Santa Cruz on October 13. Please review the program for more information.