Lecturers to speak about global labor and rise of civil rights

This week, lectures at Carnegie Mellon will focus on the modern representation of global labor issues and on understanding one of the “missing chapters” in the civil rights movement. Thursday, the Literary and Cultural Studies Colloquium Series will present a lecture on global labor by professor Michael Denning. The Center for Africanamerican Urban Studies and the Economy (CAUSE) will launch its 2006–07 Speaker Series on Friday with a lecture on the rise of civil rights in Phoenix.

This Thursday evening, professor Michael Denning will focus on how to represent global labor imaginatively, culturally, and politically. Each section of this three-part lecture will examine a different perspective on the issue.

In the first section, Denning will consider whether representing global labor requires two arguably crucial breakthroughs: a new abstraction of labor and work that categorizes “workers” and a new, modern sense of the “international.” Denning will then look at two relatively contemporary representations of global labor: the photographs of Sebastiao Salgado, a Brazilian photojournalist who has documented manual labor worldwide; and the graphs and pie charts of the 1995 World Bank report. Finally, Denning will address the sense of imaginative crisis that has led many contemporary thinkers to reject the categories of “labor” and “laborer” as inadequate.

Denning is a professor of American studies at Yale University and the director of Yale’s Initiative on Labor and Culture. He has authored several books on popular culture and social movements, including Culture in the Age of Three Worlds and The Cultural Front: The Laboring of American Culture in the Twentieth Century.

The lecture will take place from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Thursday in Baker Hall 255B.

This Friday, Matthew Whitaker, associate professor of history at Arizona State University, will speak on the history of white supremacy and black resistance in Phoenix. His lecture, titled “Race Work: The Rise of Civil Rights in the Urban West,” is the story of Lincoln and Eleanor Ragsdale, two of the most influential black activists in the post-World War II American West.

Whitaker uses the Ragsdale family history and their struggle to transform the segregated community of Phoenix to supply a “missing chapter” in the history of the civil rights movement, American race relations, and the American West.

CAUSE seeks to link historical race, work, and economic change with contemporary analyses of politics, the urban labor force, and employment policies. The center sponsors programs and lectures to promote understanding of these issues.

The lecture will be this Friday at 5 p.m. in Baker Hall A53. Refreshments will be served at 4:30.