Debates on the idea of care have come to dominate scholarship and activism on domestic work and social reproduction. What role did the struggle for rights and inclusion among African American household workers in the 1970s play in current debates? And how does naming this labor as “care” reveal a shift from Fordist (assembly line) ideas of workers’ rights towards one that equates human worth with social need? Widely published on feminism, alternative labor movements, and grassroots organizing, Professor Nadasen considers the negative implications of this shift on the struggle for dignity and human rights, offering a way to rethink care.
Cosponsored by Penn’s Alice Paul Center for Research on Gender, Sexuality and Women.
Premilla Nadasen is Professor of History at Barnard College and President of the National Women’s Studies Association. She has published extensively on the multiple meanings of feminism, alternative labor movements, and grassroots community organizing and is most interested in visions of social change, and the ways in which poor and working-class women of color have fought for social justice. She is the author of two award-winning books Welfare Warriors: The Welfare Rights Movement in the United States (Routledge 2005) and Household Workers Unite: The Untold Story of African American Women Who Built a Movement (Beacon 2015) and is currently writing a biography of South African performer and anti-apartheid activist Miriam Makeba. Nadasen has been engaged with community and campus activism for many years, bridging academic and activist work by making her scholarly work accessible to people outside of the university. She has worked with the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Damayan Migrant Workers Association, Scholars for Social Justice, and the Mississippi Low-Income Child Care Initiative.