A Strike against Sexual Harassment

Nancy Lindisfarne and Jonathan Neale

Graduate student teaching assistants at Columbia University in New York are on strike to win fair arbitration of grievances over sexual harassment. The issues at stake have important implications for trade unionists and feminists all over the world. Our purpose here is to pass on ideas for what you can do in your union. We also make some suggestions for what activists can do in our union in Britain, UCU. 

The strikers are graduate students who do much of the teaching for a low wage. They have organized themselves into a branch of the United Auto Workers. Two weeks ago they went on strike.

There are three main issues. One is union recognition. The second is increases in wages, childcare supplements and health insurance. The third is independent arbitration of grievances over sexual harassment and discrimination of all kinds. The third is the sticking point in negotiations.

Continue reading

Racism and the Myth of Trafficking

Nancy Lindisfarne and Jonathan Neale write: The myth of trafficking was invented by right-wing evangelical Christians in the United States. It is untrue, racist and dangerous to sex workers. Yet to many people it seems both feminist and left-wing. This article explores that paradox.

In 2007 the US sociologist Kimberley Kay Huong went to Vietnam to study sex trafficking. She found none, and decided to study sex work, capital flows and masculinities instead.[1] The striking thing is that, even among critical academics in the US, no one had suggested to her that maybe there was no trafficking in Vietnam. Many other anthropologists and sociologists were having the same experience in other parts of the world. When they did the actual fieldwork, the trafficking disappeared. Continue reading

Abortion politics: Lessons from US History, 1980-2018

Nancy Lindisfarne and Jonathan Neale write:  With Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the US Supreme Court, the majority of justices are against women’s abortion rights. This is the second of two posts about the “abortion wars” in the United States. In retelling this history we are looking for insights that might help us to fight for abortion rights going forward. Continue reading

WTF? The morning after Trump’s victory

wtf-1Nancy Lindisfarne and Jonathan Neale write: Trump’s win this morning has left many of us in despair. To prepare ourselves for what is to come, here are some things we need to understand about class struggle, racism and climate change.

First, this vote is a victory for the far right and for racism on a global scale. Second, it is also partly a class revolt against the consequences of neoliberalism. Trump’s appeal to class anger through racism is a tragedy and an obscenity. Continue reading

Punishing bad boys: intersections of race, class and gender

51oOK7YZyxL._AA160_

Nancy Lindisfarne and Jonathan Neale look at Ann Arnett Ferguson’s Bad Boys: Public Schools in the Making of Black Masculinity (Ann Arbour, University of Michigan Press, 2001).

This is a very good book about the depth of American racism behind the school to prison pipeline, the Ferguson and Black Lives Matter protests, and the new civil rights movement which is emerging in the United States. Bad Boys should also be read as a model for sociological research and theory. It is a brilliant example of how to do intersectional analysis.

Continue reading

Sexual Violence and Class Inequality

Nancy Lindisfarne and Jonathan Neale. To download a pdf of this paper click here NLJN31Jan15FINAL

shame delhi police

Resistance to sexual violence is increasing globally. There have been revelations of abuse in many countries, protests against rape in American universities, a riot in Delhi, and mass protests in Kolkota. It seems a tipping point has been reached and this movement will grow. This paper offers a new, and perhaps surprising, way of understanding the roots of sexism, and sexual violence which we hope will help take this movement forward.  Continue reading