Class Returns: Home and Work in Women's and Gender History

Open to the Public
Nador u. 9, Faculty Tower
Wednesday, September 11, 2013 - 5:00pm
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Wednesday, September 11, 2013 - 5:00pm to 6:40pm

Department of Gender Studies
Research Initiative "Labor History for the 21st Century in a Global Perspective", History Department

Wednesday, 11 September, 5 p.m., Auditorium

Public Lecture

Eileen Boris 

Class Returns: Home and Work in Women's and Gender History

The story of how historians of women and gender write about class—the neglected component of intersectionality—takes the form of a return narrative. Connected to trends in the global political economy, class has reemerged as a category of analysis, with interpretative returns that are worth it.  But what constitutes class and its boundaries is not so apparent. Here I reflect on three broad arenas: 1) Definitions of class: is women’s class the same as men’s? What cultural and material factors express or reinforce class? 2) Making class formation: How has gender functioned in understandings of class and class mobilization? 3) Resignifications of labor: how has women’s history expanded definitions of work and worker? What work does social reproduction and gendered divisions of labor perform in the overall political economy?  I will draw upon examples from my own research on home labors, paid and unpaid, as well as the scholarship published over the last 25 years in The Journal of Women's History, a major venue in English that features research about all time periods and areas of the world.

Eileen Boris is Hull Professor as well as Professor of History, Black Studies, and Global Studies, and Chair of the Department of Feminist Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara. Her main interest is in the relationship between gender, race and class in relation to labour. Her recent book, Caring for America: Home Health Workers in the Shadow of the Welfare State, co-authored with Jennifer Klein (Oxford University Press, 2012) won the 2013 Sara A. Whaley Prize for best book on women and labor. Other publications include Intimate Labors: Care, Sex, and Domestic Work, ed. with Rhacel Salazar Parreñas (Stanford University Press, 2010) and The Practice of US Women’s History: Narratives, Dialogues, and Intersections, ed. together with S.J. Kleinberg and Vicki Ruiz (Rutgers University Press, 2007).