Call for Papers: Aesthetic Mediations of Service Work and Racial Capital in the 21st Century

deadline for submissions: 
June 8, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Alex Pittman and Richard Purcell
contact email: 

“We are not essential. We are sacrificial.” With this statement, Sujatha Gidla, a subway conductor in New York City compelled back to work during the COVID-19 pandemic, observes that service workers who have been defined by their disposability constitute a bedrock for racial capitalism in an era of proliferating crises. We invite submissions to a special issue of Post45 that will turn to aesthetic and cultural mediations of service in the late 20th and early 21st century in order to theorize and historicize the relations between death, labor, and racial capitalism. We are particularly interested in articles that aim not only to develop theoretical frameworks for understanding the compulsions and disciplining of service laborers today, but also to articulate how literary, performing, and visual artists explore new arrangements and practices of care amidst hierarchies of labor and life. How might we characterize the sociopolitical and theoretical importance of aesthetics within this current conjuncture, when antiblack state violence, intensified exploitation of immigrant and precarious laborers, forms of economic and biological insecurity that have been amplified by the pandemic, as well as mobilizations that seek ways to escape, refuse, and reimagine life outside of racial capitalism’s terms have become highly visible within civil society and cultural production? We especially encourage submissions that respond to this broad question by tethering analyses of aesthetics in racial capitalism to feminist, queer, and trans approaches to the politics of care and reproductive labor, automation, immiseration, and the expansion of surplus populations, global apartheid and the international division of labor, and the problematization of “work” in post-Marxist scholarship, among other subjects. 


To be considered for this issue, email an abstract for a proposed article to the guest editors, Richard Purcell and Alex Pittman, by June 8, 2022. Abstracts should be approximately 350 words and should include a title and a 2-3 sentence author bio. After the guest editors have reviewed the proposals, they will invite some of the authors to turn in full-length essays for peer review. Please feel free to contact them with any additional questions at the email addresses below.

Richard Purcell ( and Alex Pittman (