We are in an era of renewed labor ferment, with dramatically rising interest in labor organizing alongside deficient legislative frameworks and a hostile judiciary. What can historical perspectives on labor movement strategies teach us about the potential and limits of organized labor power today? The panelists’ scholarly projects examine what lessons today’s labor activists might draw from the successes and failures of union, civil liberties, and civil rights lawyers in the mid-twentieth century.
Matthew Bodie (University of Minnesota Law School)
Technology today is a fundamental intermediary of labor and work, presenting enormous implications for workers’ rights and economic democracy. This panel will investigate how the legal regulation of data and technology shape capitalist relations, looking specifically at algorithmic decision-making, workplace surveillance, and artificial intelligence. Panelists will present new scholarship examining how these technologies are reshaping the relative power of workers and firms, and what these changes mean for collective action and industrial policy.
Aaron Benanav (Syracuse University)
It is commonplace in law and political economy scholarship to hear calls to “democratize” institutions or areas of law. This panel will interrogate what democratization might look like in practice across very different institutional contexts: utility regulation and workers cooperatives; administrative agencies; industrial policy; and the carceral state. By engaging across these distinct settings, the panelists aim to shed light on the conditions necessary for more genuinely egalitarian democratic control over the state and economy, and consider what it will take to get there.
Luke Herrine (University of Alabama School of Law)
This panel will examine how legal regimes, carceral institutions, and social programs alike have evolved as vehicles to manage poverty and produce more governable and “productive” subjects, particularly in poor communities and communities of color. Panelists will discuss how social constructions of race, disability, and gender dictate the forms by which our legal systems interact with those subjects and explore what these insights mean for popular mobilization.
Andrew Crespo (Harvard Law School)
If, as many observers have suggested, the U.S. labor struggle is at a key historical inflection point, how must we think differently about the future of worker power? In this panel conversation, leading legal scholars will provide a critical overview of contemporary strands of labor law research and share practical proposals to radically challenge the legal system’s treatment of workers and the commodification of labor.
Hiba Hafiz (Boston College Law School)
What are the contours of self-determination at a global scale? In this panel, leading critical legal scholars will examine the dynamics of social control and empire in the overlapping contexts of militarism, debt relations, and climate crisis. Surveying their fields, the panelists will discuss the role of law in international political economy and suggest areas for urgent intervention in the transnational legal order.
Felipe Ford Cole (Boston College Law School)
This panel puts law and political economy perspectives on the labor movement in direct conversation with the on-the-ground efforts of organizers, practitioners, and journalists. Panelists will discuss their experiences in the labor movement, how their work interacts with the legal system, the challenges they confront, and the strategies on which they rely.
Diana Reddy (Berkeley Law)
How are people organizing to dismantle carceral structures, logics, and practices that pervade their communities? This panel will feature organizers, practitioners, and journalists on the frontlines who will highlight how communities are strategically mobilizing against the carceral state, with a focus on public schools and the child welfare system.
Amna Akbar (Ohio State University Moritz College of Law)
What characterizes the production and articulation of race, gender, and class in capitalism? What role do law and legal theory play? The papers in this panel address the legal infrastructure that sustains low-wage work under racial capitalism, social movement strategies challenging the immiseration of workers, and the role of lawyers in social movements; the need for LPE to engage the moral politics of productivity and the background legal structures that reward extraction of human value; and offer a new approach to class analysis designed to explain the dynamics of capitalism and the integral role of a racialized underclass and gender subordination in its history and structure.
Guy-Uriel Charles (Harvard Law School)
This panel will examine how everyday people are fighting against or unmooring legal systems and their ideologies more broadly. Panelists will discuss the contradictions that confront social movements as they contest carceral and other dominant institutions and interrogate how these movements rearticulate justice, punishment, criminality, and legality.
Daniel Farbman (Boston College Law School)