Generative Work: Day Laborers’ Freirean Praxis
This presentation examines the politicization of precarious work in the U.S., focusing on the evolution of grassroots organizing strategies by immigrant day laborers, an allegedly “unorganizable” class of contingent workers. The presentation focuses on the ways in which repertoires of contestation – based in a philosophy of social transformation through radical democracy and Popular Education – have defused from mass-movement social struggles in Latin America in the 1980s to street corner organizing in US cities today. Through a series of in-depth interviews with day laborers and organizers, the presentation: (a) traces the continental travels of Popular Education methodologies, and (b) explores how organizing approaches from the global South have been adapted and recombined to improve conditions in low-wage labor markets.
Nik Theodore is Professor of Urban Planning and Policy and Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Research in the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs of the University of Illinois at Chicago. He has held visiting professorships at University of Johannesburg, York University, and University of Manchester. He currently serves as editor of Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography. Professor Theodore has been working closely with several workers’ rights organizations, including the National Day Laborer Organizing Network and the National Domestic Workers Alliance. His co-authored book with Jamie Peck on policies mobilities, Fast Policy: Experimental Statecraft at the Thresholds of Neoliberalism, is forthcoming with the University of Minnesota Press.