24 February 2010

Greg Halpern

A few years ago students at the University where I teach asked if I would speak on a panel they were organizing on sweatshops and globalization. I agreed and, in the course of the event, I suggested two things to them. The first was that if they are interested in whether the University spends money on garments made abroad under exploitative conditions they ought to worry less about the tee shorts for sale in the bookstore and more on the various uniforms bought by the Athletic Department. My bet is that (despite the fact that our AD is a good fellow who is extremely progressive on all sorts of matters) the companies who make uniforms for Rochester's teams rely on low wage workers in developing countries. I suspect that that is where the real money, year after year, goes. The second point was that if students were concerned about 'off-shoring' of jobs, they ought to look at the University's practices with regard to maintenance and cleaning and food-services on campus. The point being that their own College engaged in just the troubling labor practices about which they were concerned. The students found this suggestion a bit too close to home. Exploitation operates far away, no?

All of that is by way of saying that I learned today (via a reader who directed me to this post at Conscientious) that Greg Halpern, the young, talented photographer who did this book on the living wage campaign at Harvard now lives and works in Rochester.* I recommend a visit to Greg's web page where you can find not just excerpts from the book, but a bunch of his equally good more recent work.
* Thanks Mike!

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Blogger Evelyn Brister said...

Yes, it does seem psychologically easier, especially for academics, to identify injustice elsewhere than to do something at home. Well, being aware of your own backyard puts the burden on you to do something rather than just *talk* about it.

I was having a conversation just this morning with some of my colleagues who, first, thought that the "women" in "Women's and Gender Studies" was inappropriate because it treats gender as a dichotomy and thus hides the intersexed and transgendered. Some argued that it would be best to do away with references to women. When I argued that there is a political need to recognize injustice aimed specifically at women, one person admitted that, yes, there is perhaps still a need to recognize women in a transnational context. For instance, there are places where women have no choice but to wear a burkha.

Is it too much to point out that not only is there sex discrimination all over Rochester and in all sorts of contexts, but also that women in my own college are paid less than men at the same rank?

25 February, 2010 12:00  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

E ~ I am shocked to hear that problems with sexism persist here in our fair city!!! ~ J

PS: I hope all is well with you ...

25 February, 2010 14:03  
Blogger beth be said...

And how many students understand anything about the systematic exploitation of adjunct faculty on our campuses? It might be a very powerful thing to develop greater solidarity between the adjuncts and the food service workers, cleaners, etc.....


27 February, 2010 08:09  

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