Labor Beyond Economy, ACLA, April 4-7 2013

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American Comparative Literature Association
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Hannah Arendt argued that labor is anti-political because its collective nature precludes the possibility of individual consciousness and because it is performed in the name of the economy of the household. Similarly, scholarship on labor and class has been accused in the past of being too invested in the problem of economic distribution to the detriment of identity and political recognition.

More recently, however, scholars of labor studies have called for the practice of a "politics of work," approaching the problem of work in terms of the citizen subject it produces. Indeed, working-class and proletarian novels often represent the threat that certain forms of labor pose to one's subjectivity and individual consciousness, but they do so alongside of the struggle of the laborer to resist that dispossession. The emergence today of the precariat and a "new working-class," like the emergence of feminism, has induced us to rethink what labor produces aside from goods, which is to say, subjects, singularities, commons, etc.

This seminar will inquire if and how we can understand work as public and/or political. What is the extra-economic role of work? How would a politics of work account for a larger social totality? Taking into account affective or "invisible" labor and postwork imaginaries, where do theories of labor and the subject (gendered, classed, raced and religious) intersect? Through what processes does labor produce different kinds of space? And how might the global paradigm support or undercut the imagining of a politics of work?

Paper abstracts should be no longer than 250 words. Please submit your paper proposal by November 1, 2013 via the ACLA conference website: You can then choose to submit to this seminar, Labor Beyond Economy. Please do not submit your proposal directly to me.