Inequality, Labor, and Human Rights: The Future of Work in an Age of Pandemic

Our Fall 2021 Colloquium, “Inequality, Labor, and Human Rights: The Future of Work in the Age of the Pandemic” builds on and continues our similarly themed 2020 speaker series and our summer 2021 Pop-Up Institute “Beyond the Future of Work: New Paradigms for Addressing Inequality.”

This Fall’s group of five distinguished scholars from sociology, geography, law. and political theory explores a variety of sites to consider how the valuation of labor allocates resources in ways that maintain and reproduce historical patterns of racialized and gendered domination, subordination, and accumulation. Together, the speakers introduce new possibilities for thinking beyond productive value and formal work to generate more equitable imaginaries of work and livelihood.


September 21, 2021

“Financialization, Fissuring, and the Future of Work”

Speaker: Jennifer Bair, Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology, University of Virginia 

Respondent: James Galbraith, Lloyd M. Bentsen Jr. Chair in Government/Business Relations & Professor of Government, UT Austin

Abstract: Over the past thirty years, the labor share of income has declined in tandem with the proliferation of global value chains… Read more.


October 4, 2021

“Rethinking the Global Governance of Migrant Domestic Workers: The Heterodox Case of Informal Filipina Workers in China”

Speaker: Yiran Zhang, S.J.D. Candidate at Harvard Law School

Abstract: This Article uses an ethnographic case study to challenge the conventional wisdom in international labor law that formality—including formal contracts and special migration programs—always produces better jobs…Read more.


October 18, 2021

“From Chicken to Broiler: Unraveling the Snarl of Centuries”

Speaker: Carrie Freshour, Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography, University of Washington

Abstract: Through W.E.B. Du Bois’ writings on Black Southern time-sense, this paper reads the historical transformation of the backyard chicken into the industrial broiler chicken…Read more.


November 1, 2021

“Through a Glass Darkly: Political Economy and the Great Disparities”

Speaker: David, Kennedy, Manley O. Hudson Professor of Law and Faculty Director, Institute for Global Law and Policy, Harvard Law School

Abstract: This chapter synthesizes world-systems theory (including dependency theory), racial capitalism, and other structural critiques under the term “critical systems” analysis…Read more.


November 15, 2021

“Climate Futures and the Future of Work: Rethinking “Green Jobs,” Revaluing Care Work”

Speaker: Alyssa Battistoni, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Barnard College

Abstract: This paper considers possible futures of work in relation to the climate crisis…Read more.