Reworking Labor: 2017 Tufts Graduate Humanities Conference

deadline for submissions: 
June 30, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Tufts Graduate Humanities Conference

Reworking Labor

2017 Tufts Graduate Humanities Conference

Conference Date: October 20, 2017

Keynote Speaker: Ann Stoler, Willy Brandt Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Historical Studies, The New School for Social Research

Armed with glossy brochures, we choose our coffee according to claims about how it was grown, bought, and transported to our stores. We shop at farmers’ markets and boycott brands produced in sweatshops. Yet, how much do we actually know about the labor that maintains our lives? We relegate cleaning jobs to off hours and factory work to “foreign” lands and pretend domestic labor is “free”; our regular practices make work—and workers—silent, obscure, and invisible. Since global production and outsourcing has become the norm, it is only “natural” to be alienated from many forms of labor; however, distance is far from the only factor that renders labor invisible or silenced. Furthermore, while our explicit acknowledgement of exploitative global practices is essential, simple disclosure or exposure cannot resolve the fundamental challenges of labor’s institutionalized invisibility. The historical, political, and aesthetic consequences of obscuring labor requires more than mere recognition of its significance.

Tufts’s 2017 Graduate Humanities Conference asks that we thoroughly rework how we conceive of “labor,” considering questions such as: Whose labor and what kinds of labor demand to be seen and to be represented, and which work remains stubbornly veiled? What are some of the modes of visualizing or representing labor we have assimilated? How are those representations read, understood, and located institutionally? How are such representations countered, resisted, or turned back on themselves? Is reproduction considered production? What is behind moves to valorize or pillory labor? How do wealth or poverty, racial supremacy and domination, and sexuality or gender location affect how we imagine work? In the context of work, we must resist not only the “afterlives of slavery,” but also other global and local practices of extorting labor. This conference aims to rework the location and visibility of labor in local, national, and global contexts.

Please send your abstract of no more than 300 words, along with a short bio, to by June 30, 2017.


Women’s labor • Labor and border crossings • Marginalization, exclusion, and deportation of workers • Race and gender in the global labor market • Masking exploitation • Colonialism in disguise • The labor of waste • Age and work • The sharing economy • Workers in the modern workplace • Emotional labor • Theories and narratives of work • Working-class history • Migrant farm labor • Class representations in the media • The pedagogy of “anti-colonialism” and “neo-colonialism” • Sex work • Temporary labor • Free(?) labor • Pedagogy as labor • Intellectual labor • Language as labor • Labor of resistance • Activism as labor • Post-work/post-jobs • Technologies of labor