Poverty, Precarity, and Work:
Struggle and Solidarity in an Era of Permanent(?) Crisis
U.C. Davis School of Law
Davis, CA * November 14-15, 2014
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, President Johnson’s declaration of a “War on Poverty,” and the establishment of the first Neighborhood Legal Services Program pilot in Washington, D.C. Each of these initiatives attempted to address problems of structural economic inequality—problems that remain with us nationally and internationally . The seventh meeting of ClassCrits will focus on work, poverty, and resistance in an age of increasing economic insecurity.
In law, it is generally easier to discuss “poverty” than to look deeply into its causes and incidents—including income and wealth inequality, the close interaction of class and race in America, and the connections between gender and economic hardship. It is also easier to discuss “poverty” than what some scholars call “precarity”—the increasing vulnerability of workers, even those above the official poverty line, to disaster. Precarity has both economic and political roots. Its economic sources include the casualization of labor, low wages, persistently high unemployment rates, inadequate social safety nets, and constant vulnerability to personal financial catastrophes. Its political sources include the success of neoliberal ideology, upward redistribution of wealth, increasing polarization and dysfunction in Congress, and the dependence of both political parties on a steady stream of big money. Precarity is also not limited to the United States, but is reshaping space around the globe. While the aftermath of the housing bubble and subsequent foreclosures drain home values across America and strip equity disproportionately from minority neighborhoods, in developing-country “megacities,” millions of slum-dwellers are displaced to make way for high-end residential and commercial real estate developments.
Finally, this conference focuses on challenging structural forms of inequality from a place of compassion and creating possibilities for resilience. In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice that produces beggars needs restructuring.” In this spirit, ClassCrits VII will explore the risks, uncertainty, and structural challenges of this period and discuss possibilities for shared goals and new forms of resistance.
More information, including schedule and online registration is here. The registration fee is $199.00 for accepted presenters who are full-time faculty members. Registration is free for students and activists. Participants who do not fit into these categories, and/or who for individual reasons cannot afford the registration fee, should contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Workshop attendees are responsible for their own travel and lodging expenses.
Conference Planning Committee
Angela P. Harris, King Hall, U.C. Davis School of Law (co-chair)
Lisa R. Pruitt, King Hall, U.C. Davis School of Law (co-chair)
Tonya Brito, The University of Wisconsin Law School
Sarah Dadush, Rutgers School of Law—Newark
Lucille Jewel, John Marshall Law School
Martha Mahoney, University of Miami School of Law
Saru Matambanadzo, Tulane University Law School
Athena Mutua, SUNY Buffalo Law School
René Reich-Graefe, Western New England University School of Law
Matthew Titolo, West Virginia University College of Law
Jay Varellas, PhD Candidate in Political Science, University of California, Berkeley
ClassCrits is a network of scholars and activists interested in the critical, interdisciplinary and international analysis of law and economic relations. The global economic crisis, along with growing economic inequality and insecurity, suggests it is time to explore alternatives to the neoclassical or “free market” economic paradigm, often identified with the U.S.-origin “Law and Economics” movement. We aim to revive discussions of questions of class pushed to the margins or relegated to the shadowy past, considering the possible meaning and relevance of economic class to the contemporary context. We also hope to better integrate the rich diversity of economic and social sciences methods and theories into law by exploring and engaging non-neoclassical and heterodox economics. The name “ClassCrits” reflects our interest in focusing on economics through the lens of critical legal scholarship movements, such as critical legal studies, critical feminist theory, critical race theory, LatCrit, queer theory, and critical law and development theory. That is, we start with the assumption that economics in law is inextricably political and fundamentally tied to questions of systemic status-based subordination. http://www.classcrits.org