Workers and World Crises Conference

Posted in Events


On Sept. 22-24, 2011, the Kalmanovitz Initiative hosted Workers and World Crises: A Conference of Labor: Studies in the Working-Class History of the Americas, with support from the University of Maryland Department of History.

As the world economy struggles to cope with and recover from the “Great Recession,” this conference gathered more than fifty top scholars from four continents to discuss the present crisis in light of other crises that have afflicted working people over the past two centuries.

The conference program is available below.


Conference Program

Sept 22-24, 2011
Georgetown University and the Embassy Row Hotel
(new window)
Washington DC

Sponsored by:
Labor: Studies in the Working-Class History of the Americas
Hosted by:
Georgetown’s Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor
With support from the
University of Maryland Department of History

Thursday, Sept. 22, 7:00pm, Keynote Session and Reception

Depressions, Then and Now

David Montgomery, “Depressions as a Basic Feature of Working-Class life: The Long View”
Ed Montgomery, Dean, Georgetown Public Policy Institute, ”How Workers and the Government Have Dealt with Economic Crisis and Industrial Decline: 1929 and 2009”
Steve Fraser, Commentator
Alice Kessler-Harris, Columbia, Commentator
Julie Greene, Univ. of Maryland, Chair

Location: the Intercultural Center Auditorium, Georgetown University
(This talk is open to the public; no registration required.)

* * *

All Friday and Saturday Sessions will take place at the
Embassy Row Hotel (new window), 2015 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, where registration will be required.

Friday, Sept. 23, 8:30-10:30am Session 1. Plenary—
The Crisis of the 19th Century Political Economy

Scott Reynolds Nelson, William and Mary, “On Financialization”
Sven Beckert, Harvard, “The Labor of Capitalism: Industrial Revolution and the Transformation of the Global Countryside” 
Stephanie McCurry, Univ. of Pennsylvania, Commentator
Bruce Laurie, Univ. of Massachusetts, Commentator
Brian Kelly, Queen’s University, Belfast, Chair

Friday, Sept. 23, 10:45-12:45pm Session 2A-2B

2A) Workers and the U-Turn of the 1930s

Wendy Goldman, Carnegie Mellon, “Soviet Workers and Stalinist Terror: The Crisis of Industrialization”
Bryan Palmer, Trent University, and Gaetan Heroux, “Cracking the Stone’: The Long History of Capitalist Crisis and the Toronto Dispossessed”
Jim Barrett, Univ. of Illinois, Commentator
Mark Leier, Simon Fraser University, Commentator
Zaragosa Vargas, Univ. of North Carolina, Chair

2B) Struggles Within the Welfare State

Melanie Nolan, Australian National University, “Collusion, Collaboration or Resistance? Neo-Liberalism at Work in the Antipodean Welfare State in the Late Twentieth Century?”
Alvin Finkel, Athabasca Univ., “Workers’ Social Wage Struggles during the Great Depression and the Era of Neo-liberalism: International Comparisons”
Shelton Stromquist, Univ. of Iowa, Commentator
Nancy MacLean, Univ. of North Carolina, Commentator
Eileen Boris, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara, Chair

Lunch 12:45-2

Friday, Sept. 23, 2-4pm Session 3A-3B

3A) Freedom and Unfreedom in Capitalist Development

Alessandro Stanziani, Ecole des Haute Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris, “Escaping Colonial History: Labour, Rights, and Bondage in Europe, the Indian Ocean, and Africa, ca. 1740-1914”
Prabhu Mohapatra, “Informal Labour Relations in India An Historical Perspective”
Marcel van der Linden, International Institute for Social History, Amsterdam, Commentator
Alex Lichtenstein, Florida International, Commentator
Thavolia Glymph, Duke, Chair

3B) Workers and the U-Turn of the 1970s

Judith Stein, City University of New York, ”The 1970’s Crisis: Prelude to the Present”
Joseph A. McCartin, Georgetown, “Collision Course: Air Traffic Controllers and the Crisis of 1970s Working-Class America”
Kim Phillips-Fein, New York University, Commentator
David Freund, Univ. of Maryland, Chair

Friday, Sept. 23, Dinner and After Dinner Talk, 6-9pm

Sam Gindin, York Univ., “Working Class Strategies in an Era of Austerity”

Sat., Sept. 24, 8:30-10:30am Session 4A-4B

4A) Crises as Political Moments

Brodwyn Fischer, Northwestern, “Urban Poverty and the Urgency of Now: Latin America’s Shantytowns and the Distortions of Crisis Thinking”
Terry Bouton, Univ. of Maryland, Baltimore County, “Rethinking the New United States as a Developing Country: How International Capital Crushed Small Farmers”
Peter Way, Univ. of Windsor, Commentator
Lesley Gill, Vanderbilt, Commentator
Tobias Higbie, UCLA, Chair

4B) Gender and Class in Booms/Busts

Lisa Levenstein, Univ. of North Carolina, Greensboro, and Jennifer Mittelstadt, Rutgers, “How Public Sector Workers Became Welfare Queens: The Shadow of Welfare in Postwar U.S. Politics”
Sean Cadigan, Memorial University, “Want Amidst Plenty: The Oil Boom and the Working Class in Newfoundland and Labrador, 1992-2010”
Joan Sangster, Trent University, Commentator
Laurie Green, Univ. of Texas, Commentator
Jocelyn Olcott, Duke, Chair

Sat. 10:45-12:45 Sessions 5A-5B

5A) Rethinking Labor History’s Basic Categories

Jefferson Cowie, Cornell, “Rethinking the ‘Working Class’ for a Postmodern Age”
Laura Brace, Leicester, “The Inside and the Outside: Labour, Freedom and Belonging”
Laura Edwards, Duke, Commentator
Will Jones, Univ. of Wisconsin, Commentator
Dorothy Sue Cobble, Rutgers, Chair

5B) Challenge of Modern-Day Merchant Capitalism

Nelson Lichtenstein, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara, “The Return of Merchant Capitalism”
Lu Zhang, Johns Hopkins, ”From Detroit to Shanghai? Autoworkers’ Strike Wave and Evolving State-Labor-Capital Relations in Post-Socialist China”
John French, Duke, Commentator
Peter Coclanis, Univ. of North Carolina, Commentator
Jennifer Luff, Georgetown, Chair

Lunch 12:45-1:30

Sat., Sept. 24 1:30-3:00pm Plenary Wrap-Up Discussion

Leon Fink, Joe McCartin
, and Joan Sangster, presiding.