Americanist Dinner Forum: Work, After the Future
The “public-private” divide is “gasping for air,” writes Paolo Virno. What does this mean for work’s present, and its future? This Americanist Dinner Forum looks at the blurred boundaries between life and work from the perspectives of feminist science and technology, literary, and sex work studies. Kalindi Vora investigates how technologies are designed to pry open our intimate non-work spaces, leisure time, and subjectivities in the interest of capitalist profit. Sarah Brouillette looks to the gig working “sensitivity reader” as a view into the feminization of work in the publishing industry. And Heather Berg turns to porn workers’ struggles against both the alienation of straight jobs and the constant laboring gigged sex work entails. Together, they ask, what demands we might make of the future of work? And, what tools we might have at our disposal in getting there?
Kalindi Vora is Visiting Professor of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, and of Ethnicity Race and Migration at Yale University, with secondary appointments in History of Science and Medicine and American Studies. She is Professor of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at UC Davis, also Director of the Feminist Research Institute, and affiliate faculty of Science and Technology Studies. She is author of Life Support: Biocapital and the New History of Outsourced Labor (2015; winner of the 4S 2018 Rachel Carson book prize); and with Neda Atanasoski, Surrogate Humanity: Race, Robots and the Politics of Technological Futures, (Duke University Press, 2019). Her current book project, funded by an NSF Science and Technology Studies award, is provisionally titled, “Autoimmune: Chronic Conditions and Care in a Time of Uncertain Medicine." Her publications appear in journals including Current Anthropology, The South Atlantic Quarterly, Somatechnics, Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology, Postmodern Culture, Radical Philosophy, and Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience.
Sarah Brouillette is a Professor in the Department of English at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. She is the author of Postcolonial Writers in the Global Literary Marketplace (2007), Literature and the Creative Economy (2014), and UNESCO and the Fate of the Literary (2019).
Heather Berg writes about sex, work, and social struggle. Her first book, Porn Work (UNC Press, 2021), explores workers' strategies for navigating--and subverting--precarity. Her writing appears in the journals Feminist Studies, Signs, South Atlantic Quarterly, and others. Heather is assistant professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Washington University in St. Louis.