Just a quick update to mention a public talk I’ll be giving at Macalester University in St. Paul. MN for their International Studies Department.
Date: Thursday, Feb. 7th
Location: Harmon Room (Library)
Stay in L.A.: Precarious Duration for Temporary Workers in Los Angeles
The global city of Los Angeles has long been notorious for its conflicting representational history. At once paradise and apocalypse, utopia and slum, sunshine and noir, Los Angeles persists as a destination for workers from the global south who congregate in search of the opportunities of the hemispheric north. With such a history, it is important to ask: why is it necessary to view Los Angeles as a global city? What draws populations the world over to Los Angeles despite the uncertainty? And how do individuals or communities challenge the precarity of their temporariness? In this talk, Anne Cong-Huyen addresses these questions, and reads the imagined city in the context of the diverse temporary populations that all struggle to endure or stay. She focuses on the cultural representations and engagements of high-tech workers and day laborers in news media, websites, novels, and blogs. These two populations seem to occupy opposite ends of the economic and social spectrum, but are both linked by the temporary nature of their work. She argues that for these workers, permanence and endurance is fashioned through labor marked by obsolescence—maintaining technology, tending gardens or homes. The precarity of these subjective experiences endure in the production of cultural texts, which document and give voice to populations whose representations are often co-opted and distorted. The texts here present instances of contingent workers refusing to remain temporary, ultimately enabling hope in the face of precarity.
I hope anyone who is in the area will be able to make it. It will be followed by a lively discussion, I’m sure. Look forward to meeting everyone!
I also wanted to briefly mention a roundtable that I participated on at UCSB this past week, hosted by the Hemispheric South/s Research Center.
The roundtable, “Transpacifics Roundtable: An Interdisciplinary Dialogue Hosted by the Hemispheric South/s Research Initiative,” brought together several teachers/scholars from the UCSB English Department who are all coincidentally teaching courses around the transnational or global Pacific. It was a very productive and enlightening session in which I spoke about my current class, “The Literature and Media of Transnational Asian America.” Sadly, I forgot to share the information on this roundtable beforehand, but I do hope we have more of these and continue these conversations, because it seems that we so seldom have a chance to really sit and discuss our courses and our pedagogy. Many thanks to Stephanie Batiste and Alison Reed for organizing the event and for starting the dialogue.