Essential Workers as a Legal Category
Who is an “essential” worker? Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the concept of “essential work” has been broadened from doctors and emergency responders to include a range of work and care. But does the term “essential worker” have any legal significance? If not, how could we imagine a legal category of “essential” work that would adequately value the care work that essential workers perform? This is especially important given that many of today’s essential workers, such as grocery clerks, farmworkers, and childcare providers, lack basic labor protections and job security, even as they are publicly lauded for their service and sacrifice. This panel discussion will examine where the idea of “essential workers” fits into local and international law, in order to understand why our most valued workers are too often the most vulnerable. Moderator: Ashton W Merck, Visiting Lecturer, Duke Kunshan University Speakers: Pedro Augusto Gravatá Nicoli, associate professor at the Faculty of Law of the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) Supriya Routh, Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Victoria Candida Leone, Assistant Professor at the Amsterdam Centre for Transformative Private Law
January 21, 2021
COVID-19 and Gender Violence
The COVID-19 Pandemic and the lockdown measures that governments around the world implemented have also brought with them a spike in gender violence. This aspect intersects with the exacerbation of economic, racial, and political violence, among others. In this transnational dialogue between feminist activists and academics from Argentina, Ecuador, India, and Italy, they will address the multiple forms of violence that have crystallized in this global health crisis, and they will discuss the possibilities for action that feminism from different latitudes envision. Moderator: Martha Liliana Espinosa Speakers: Verónica Gago is professor of Sociology at the Instituto de Altos Estudios, Universidad Nacional de San Martín, Argentina, and she also teaches Political Science at the Universidad de Buenos Aires. She has been visiting Scholar at the International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs, and is Assistant Researcher at the Argentinian National Council of Research (CONICET). Gago is the author of Feminist International: How to Change Everything (about to be published-Nov.2020 Verso), and Neoliberalism from Below: Popular Pragmatics and Baroque Economies (Tinta Limón 2014, Duke University Press, 2017), and of numerous articles published in journals and books throughout Latin America, Europe and the US. She is a member of the independent radical collective press Tinta Limón. She was part of the militant research experience Colectivo Situaciones, and she is now a member of Ni Una Menos. Maya John teaches at the University of Delhi (India). She has been researching and publishing on the evolution of labour law in colonial and postcolonial India; the relationship between caste, gender and the labour market; the history of educational inequality in India; recent anti-rape agitations in India and gender-specific laws at the workplace. John is actively working with the Gharelu Kamgar Union, a union of domestic workers employed in Delhi-NCR. She is also active in unions of nurses, teachers and other sections of the urban workforce, and is associated with the women's organization, Centre for Struggling Women. Alejandra Santillana Ortiz is a Sociology graduate from Universidad Católica of Ecuador and has a master’s degree in Social Sciences from FLACSO (Social Sciences Latin American Faculty). She is currently a Ph.D. student at Universidad Autónoma de México (UNAM) and she is working on her thesis about the political history of Ecuador´s Left-wing in the 70s and 80s. She is part of two work and debate groups of CLACSO (Latin American Council of Social Sciences): Gender, Feminism, and Latin American and Caribbean History Work Network, and Rural Development Critical Studies. Alessandra Spano is a PhD student and assistant to the chair of Political Philosophy at the Department of Social and Political Sciences, in Catania. Her research focuses are on Critical Theory, Marxism and Feminist Thought, especially gravitating toward female thinkers in the US. She has been actively involved in Non una di meno, the Italian network for Women’s strike, and is associated with Migrants’ Coordination and Precarious Dis/connections, collectives which organize migrant, precarious and industrial workers’ struggles, on a local and transnational level.
January 21, 2021
Transgender Care During Covid
Transgender people often face significant barriers to care. Many of these barriers stem from fear of discrimination at the hands of healthcare professionals, social workers, and other non-profit entities. The Covid crisis has highlighted and exacerbated many pre-existing discriminatory practices. In the U.S., the roll-back of Obama-era healthcare protections based on gender identity in the midst of the pandemic has further marginalized the transgender community and created new obstacles for care. This workshop features scholars from Mexico, Brazil, and the United States in a discussion about how Covid has impacted transgender care, how transgender communities and activists have responded, and how we can move forward with more equitable care practices. JAQUELINE GOMES DE JESUS is a Professor of Psychology at the Rio de Janeiro Federal Institute. Siobhan Guerrero McManus holds a Doctorate of Philosophy of Science and is a Professor at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) Chris Barcelos is an Assistant Professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.
September 15, 2020
Promises and Perils of a COVID Vaccine
Researchers across the globe are busily working to manufacture a vaccine that will halt the devastating spread of the novel coronavirus. According to the World Health Organization, twenty-six vaccine candidates are now in clinical evaluation. As case and mortality rates climb, a vaccine appears to many as the only way out of the pandemic. Yet vaccine development and distribution raise a number of ethical quandaries that cannot be separated from histories of medical violence and mistrust—issues that are compounded by staggering health disparities across communities of color, due to economic and discriminatory practices that disproportionately put them at risk. This workshop brings together experts in history and bioethics to provide insight into these issues and to consider what opportunities vaccination might hold for restorative justice and more equitable forms of preventative care. Organized by Dr. Farren Yero, Postdoctoral Associate in Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies, the panelists include: Dr. Robin Wolfe Scheffler, Associate Professor at the MIT Program in Science, Technology, and Society; Dr. Yolonda Wilson, National Humanities Center Fellow and an Encore Public Voices Fellow; and Elise A. Mitchell, Doctoral Candidate in the Department of History at New York University. A transcript of the event can be found at https://www.valuingcare.net/podcasts
September 15, 2020
Special: Interview with ZHIZHU (Wuhan Mutual Aid Practitioner and Vlogger)
***Special episode: A focused interview with ZHIZHI - a Wuhan mutual aid practitioner and vlogger*** ZHI ZHU is an independent filmmaker and a well-known vlogger, whose works have been well received on various Chinese social media platforms, including Sina Weibo and Bilibili. As a Wuhan native, he participated in the local mutual aid societies during the quarantine period. He was a driver offering rides to healthcare workers. He was a carrier sending medical supplies and food around the city to people in need. In addition, with his camera, he has revealed untold narratives of mutual aid societies, healthcare workers, and ordinary people. By presenting the real situations to people outside the quarantine, his vlogs successfully dispeled endless rumors about Wuhan. His series of vlogs entitled “Wuhan Quarantine Diary” has become one of the most informative and powerful testimony of that exceptional policy. (Click here to check out his fascinating vlogs!) If you would like to further explore the topics of mutual aid, please refer to our podcast entitled “Mutual Aid around the World,” which features scholars and activists from Italy, China, and Argentina, and aims to reflect upon new forms of care from a global perspective. Please note: the original interview was conducted in Chinese mandarin language. For the English translation of the interview transcript, please see this document.
August 25, 2020
Defunding the Police
In this time of global pandemic, the expression “I can’t breathe” carries a dual meaning: it is both a tell-tale symptom of COVID-19, and a now-familiar mantra of the Black Lives Matter movement, echoing the final words of Eric Garner and George Floyd. This seminar is dedicated to an organic, accessible, and robust discussion of why the social justice initiative to “Defund the Police” is possible, necessary, and desirable. What does it mean (and what would it look like) to defund the police, and how does the current discourse track in academic vs. non-academic spaces? Who is this movement for—and who among us are still unaccounted for? Our seminar is comprised of individuals rooted in activism, academia, and the arts, who are calling in from across the United States. They bring their experience and expertise not only to imagine American society without the current policing system, but also to think beyond prisons, punitivity, and exclusionary practices in our institutions and movements. Moderator: Jessica Covil Speakers: Steph Hopkins , Durham activist, member of BYP100 and Durham Beyond Policing; J Kameron Carter , Professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University Bloomington, author of forthcoming book The Religion of Whiteness: An Apocalyptic Lyric; Vincente SubVersive Perez , UC Berkeley PhD Student, performance poet, activist, and author of B(lack)NESS & LATINI(dad); Meghan McDowell , Assistant Professor of History, Politics, and Social Justice at Winston-Salem State University, scholar-activist who studies forms of safety and justice that do not rely on policing or prisons; Stephanie Green , Duke Undergraduate majoring in Public Policy, and member of Duke Black Coalition Against Policing.
August 12, 2020
Contact Tracing: Between Control and Care
Contact tracing has become one common practice to monitor and track the transmission of COVID-19 both regionally and globally. While the practice aims to take care of public health, its collection and use of data has still generated debates and concerns around the question of control, privacy and market, which, of course, also varies depending on different contact tracing approaches and conductors. With collective health on the one side and privacy protection on the other, how shall we balance control and care involved in contact tracing? How could we understand its implications and foresee its development? In this workshop we will explore not only the pros and cons of contact tracing but also the bias implied in the viral transmission, the rhetoric of the “super spreader,” and the ways through which technology might or might not constitute a more caring future. Moderator: Yanping Ni Speakers: Susan Craddock : Professor in the Institute for Global Studies at the University of Minnesota; Mauro Turrini : sociologist of science and medicine at the Institute of Public Goods and Policies (IPP) of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC); Vincenzo Pavone: Director of the Institute of Public Policies (IPP), of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC); Morris Fabbri: Graduate, MA in Bioethics and Science Policy, Duke University.
August 7, 2020
Mutual Aid Around the World
This workshop seeks to explore the emerging global phenomenon of mutual aid in the pandemic era. We invite mutual aid practitioners and researchers from Italy, China, and Argentina. They will share observations from the ground as well as offer insights about the embedded structural issues. How do we measure the benefits and risks of mutual aid? What is the relationship between mutual aid assistance and state assistance? How might mutual aid in the pandemic differ from that in other circumstances? With connections and comparisons between different countries, we hope to altogether reimagine and move towards a future full of new possibilities of care. Moderator: Tania Rispoli Speakers: Elia Zaru: PhD candidate in Cultures and Societies of Contemporary Europe at the Scuola Normale Superiore; activist of “Radio Onda d’Urto”; Maisa Bascuas & Ana Julia Bustos: feminist and popular activist from Buenos Aires, Argentina; ZHIZHU: independent filmmaker; mutual aid practitioner in the Wuhan quarantine.
July 29, 2020
The COVID-19 Childcare Crisis
“The Covid-19 Childcare Crisis” seeks to examine how the coronavirus pandemic has exposed existing problems in the U.S. childcare system. Our three panelists -Congresswoman Katherine Clark of Massachusetts’s Fifth District, Dr. Bisa Batten Lewis of the BCDI-Atlanta, and Rhian Evans Allvin of NAEYC -will offer their insights on the “childcare crisis” and explore policy solutions to address the specific challenges revealed by COVID. The webinar will also include discussion of how childcare has shaped working from home, intersectionality in policy responses, and the childcare policy at the state-and national-level. Moderator: Amanda Kang Speakers: Congresswoman Katherine Clark: US Representative for Massachusetts’s 5th Congressional District; Rhian Evans Allvin: CEO of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC); Dr. Bisa Batten Lewis: President of the Black Child Development Institute (BCDI)-Atlanta.
July 16, 2020