Globalizing Class: Spaces, Places, and Networks of Power, NYU

Dissertation Workshop
Call for Papers

Globalizing Class: Spaces, Places, and Networks of Power

Institute for Public Knowledge
20 Cooper Square, 5th Floor
8-9 June 2012

Deadline for Applications: 15 April 2012

This interdisciplinary dissertation workshop is concerned with class identities, formations, genealogies, cultures, and power relations in processes of globalization, past and present. It seeks to globalize class in three distinct, connected ways.

  • We seek to open up spatial frames for the study of class, as widely as possible, using the term “globalize” to signal immeasurable spatial possibilities and also to evoke the many contested meanings of the term “global” that are in circulation today.
  • We seek to complicate and specify the spatial framing of class, so as to move beyond assumptions of methodological nationalism, which (mostly invisibly) identify class status and power with national culture, society, and political economy. How this might work in practice appears when we consider the spatial framing of E.P.Thompson’s Making of the English Working Class (Vintage, 1963), which covers a period in history when English class formations were travelling the seas and extending their reach among continents. In a mobile spatial framing of class, we may also find that cultural meanings of “class,” in the sense of ”classiness,” may require access to transnational commodity chains and participation in extensive class relations, informed by cultural capital on the move, in the guise of Orientalism, nationalism, or neo-liberalism.
  • We want to analyze the practical work of globalizing classes in expanding capitalism, from early days of mercantilism to the present. Trans-Atlantic, trans-Pacific, and Indian Ocean migrations and transplantations of capital and labor move along specific networks, from place to place, forming distinctive sites of class relations,inter-connected and inter-dependent, but also imbued with their own cultural character. We can use mobile spatial lens to follow interlaced migrations of capital and labor, the trans-national formation of middle classes, and the productivity of consumer-class cultures amidst the flow of values and commodities, such as those that define the iconic character portrayed in The Modern Girl Around the World: Consumption, Modernity, and Globalization (Duke, 2008).

The workshop brings together eight students and four faculty members, who meet from 9 to 5 for two days at IPK. We consider two student projects in the morning and two in the afternoon, on Friday and Saturday. Lunch is provided on Friday and Saturday, and dinner, on Thursday and Friday. Students from outside the United States can be offered three days’ residence in a local hotel, two students to a room. We are unable to cover travel expenses.

Students in later stages of dissertation writing are invited to submit proposals for this workshop. Please send (1) a current CV, (2) a short account of your dissertation, and (3) one draft chapter, as email attachments, to David Ludden (del5 AT and Ravinder Kaur (rkaur AT, by 15 April 2012. We will select participants by 1 May 2012.

Students need to provide written material for the workshop by 25 May 2012: this will consist of a short overview of the dissertation and one draft chapter. All students and faculty read all workshop material in advance of our meetings. Students are each assigned to provide detailed comments on each other’s papers. Authors then respond briefly, opening general discussion, which includes faculty input.