Labor Mobility and Precarity on a Global Scale: A Symposium with Guy Standing, Alejandro Grimson, and Biao Xiang, Tuesday, February 7, 2017, 12:00-5:30pm, Stevenson Event Center, UC Santa Cruz

Session II of "Non-citizenship," UC Santa Cruz's Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Sawyer Seminar, focuses on labor mobility and precarity, two concepts that highlight the tiered and sometimes overlapping spaces between citizen and non-citizen. In this symposium, Guy Standing, Alejandro Grimson, and Biao Xiang discuss labor, migrants, denizens, and the precariat.

December 13, 2016

By , Professor of Literature  

AGTCAP (Union Association of Cooperative, Self-Managed & Casualized Workers) Protest, Ministry of Labor, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Photo by Steven Araujo.

This symposium explores how global labor mobility and rising precarity affect and connect the experiences of citizens and non-citizens. Precarity, the experience of insecurity and constant risk of exclusion, is central to the experience of many labor migrants and citizen-workers in our time. Today’s labor migrants are new denizens—residents or inhabitants who are not quite full members of society. They are incorporated into societies that desire their labor, but reject their very presence. Meanwhile, citizen-workers are exposed to new forms of vulnerability as social rights, such as education, health care, and retirement, are increasingly privatized, made contingent, or dissolved altogether. In such contexts, the majority of British voters demand Brexit and Donald Trump is elected president with the mandate to "make America great again."

To prepare for this symposium, Guy Standing, Alejandro Grimson, and Biao Xiang will take part in a seminar on labor mobility and precarity on Monday, February 6, 12:00-2:00, in Humanities 1, Room 210. Please click here for more information about their February 6th seminar.

The February 7th symposium is free and open to the public, but attendees are kindly asked to register in advance.


Symposium Schedule

12:00-12:20pm - Welcome from Catherine Ramírez (Latin American & Latino Studies, UC Santa Cruz) & Lunch

12:20-1:50pm - Guy Standing (School of Oriental & African Studies): "The Precariat: The New Denizens" + Q&A moderated by Juan Poblete (Literature, UC Santa Cruz)

1:50-2:05pm - Coffee break

2:05-3:35pm - Alejandro Grimson (Universidad Nacional de San Martín): "The Waste Product of Globalization's Party" + Q&A moderated by Felicity Amaya Schaeffer (Feminist Studies, UC Santa Cruz)

3:35-3:50pm - Coffee break

3:50-5:20pm – Biao Xiang (University of Oxford):  "The Other Precariat: Notes from Asia" + Q&A moderated by Steve McKay (Sociology, UC Santa Cruz) 


grimson headshotAn expert on south-south migration, Alejandro Grimson is dean of the School of Social Sciences at Universidad Nacional de San Martín in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is the author of many books, including Relatos de la diferencia y la igualdad: los bolivianos en Buenos Aires (Eudeba, 1999) and Los límites de la cultura: crítica de las teorías de la identidad (Siglo XXI Argentina, 2011), winner of the Latin American Studies Association’s Premio Iberoamericano for best book of the year.

Steve McKay headshotAn internationally renowned scholar of labor, migration, globalization, and race, Steve McKay is the author of the award-winning Satanic Mills or Silicon Islands: The Politics of High-tech Production in the Philippines (Cornell University/ILR Press, 2006) and co-editor with Sukanya Bannerjee and Aims McGuinness of New Routes for Diaspora Studies (Indiana University Press, 2012).  In addition to serving on the CLRC Steering Committee, he is Co-Principal Investigator of Non-citizenship, UC Santa Cruz's Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Sawyer Seminar.  He also directs the Center for Labor Studies and is the principal investigator of Working for Dignity, a project on low-wage labor in Santa Cruz County.

Juan Poblete HeadshotJuan Poblete is Professor of Literature and Co-principal Investigator of Non-citizenship, UC Santa Cruz's Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Sawyer Seminar. His broad and myriad research interests include nineteenth-century Latin American literature, nation and nationalism, and popular culture in the Americas. His most recent publications include Sports and Nationalism in Latin America (with Héctor Fernández L’Hoeste and Robert McKee-Irwin, Palgrave, 2015) and Humor in Latin American Cinema (with Juana Suárez, Palgrave, 2016).

Ramirez headshotCatherine S. Ramírez, Associate Professor of Latin American and Latino Studies, is the director of the Chicano Latino Research Center and Principal Investigator of Non-citizenship, UC Santa Cruz's Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Sawyer Seminar.  Her current book project, Assimilation:  An Alternative History, excavates a history of assimilation as a concept and project in the United States.

Schaeffer headshotFelicity Amaya Schaeffer is Associate Professor of Feminist Studies and Co-principal Investigator of Non-citizenship, UC Santa Cruz's Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Sawyer Seminar.  She is the author of Love and Empire:  Cybermarriage and Citizenship across the Americas (New York University Press, 2013), an exploration of the relationship between global shifts and intimate circuits of desire, love, and marriage.  Her current research is on surveillance technologies and the sexual criminalization of migrant bodies on and beyond the US-Mexico border.  Other research interests include borderlands and transnationalisms; affect and capitalism; race, technology, and subjectivity; and Chicana and Latin American cultural studies.

standing headshotGuy StandingProfessor of Development Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, is a scholar of labor, globalization, citizenship, and social movements. His most recent books include A Precariat Charter: From Denizens to Citizens (Bloomsbury Academic Press, 2014) and The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class (Bloomsbury Academic Press, 2011).  From 1999 until March 2006, he was director of the Socio-Economic Security Programme of the International Labour Organisation in Geneva, Switzerland.

xiang headshot

Biao Xiang, Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Oxford, specializes in labor, migration, and social change in Asia. An ethnographer, he has studied migration from rural China to Beijing, migrant Indian information technology engineers in Australia, and unskilled labor migration from China to Japan, South Korea, and Singapore. He is the author of The Intermediary Trap (Princeton University Press, forthcoming), Global Bodyshopping (Princeton University Press, 2007), Transcending Boundaries (Chinese edition by Sanlian Press, 2000; English edition by Brill Academic Publishers, 2005), and the co-editor of Return: Nationalizing Transnational Mobility in Asia (Duke University Press, 2013).

This symposium is co-sponsored by the 
Chicano Latino Research Center and Institute for Humanities Research, with generous support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.