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POL S 373 A: Violence, Exploitation and Exclusion in U.S. Labor Markets

Meeting Time: 
TTh 11:30am - 12:50pm
PCAR 192
Becca Thorpe
Rebecca U. Thorpe

Syllabus Description:

POL S 373: Violence, Exploitation & Exclusion in US Labor Markets

Tu/Th. 11:30-12:50 – PCAR 192

 Professor Thorpe


Office hours: Friday 3:30-5 & by appointment (SMI 221C)

Zoom link:

Teaching Assistants:

Email: Candela Arias Perez, Cody Little

Office Hours: TBD

Course Description

This course examines recurring practices of violence, exploitation and exclusion in U.S. labor markets. The material unfolds in three parts: First, we examine foundational theories of economic and political power, including classical liberal, Marxist and feminist perspectives. Second, we apply and interrogate these theories in the context of racialized labor (spanning from slavery and convict leasing to mass incarceration and prison labor), gendered labor (including domestic/caring labor and sex work) and contingent labor (migrant and undocumented labor). Finally, we shift focus to the development and growth of underground economies, including the drug trade and sex industry. Students are encouraged to question the ways in which racial, ethnic, gendered and geographic hierarchies create and fortify categories of citizenship and belonging as well as subjectivities of contingency and vulnerability, and to conceptualize labor as a site of struggle, resistance and solidarity.


Course Material  

Course texts are available for book purchase and for free download on Canvas. All other required reading materials, podcasts and videos are posted on the course website. 

Daily reading of The New York Times is also strongly encouraged. Subscriptions at reduced college rates are available here.


Primary texts include: 

*Agustin, Laura Marie. 2007. Sex at the Margins: Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry. Zed Books. 

*Holmes, Seth M. 2013. Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies: Migrant Farmworkers in the United States. University of California Press.

*Pachirat, Timothy. 2013. Every Twelve Seconds: Industrialized Slaughter and the Politics of Sight. Yale University Press.

*Paley, Dawn. 2015. Drug War Capitalism. AK Press. 

*Stuesse, Angela. 2016. Scratching Out a Living: Latinos, Race, and Work in the Deep South. University of California Press.

Catalog Description: 
Examines racialized and gendered labor markets, including legacy of slavery, segregation, mass incarceration and prison labor, domestic and care labor, undocumented/migrant labor, and underground economies.
GE Requirements: 
Diversity (DIV)
Social Sciences (SSc)
Last updated: 
October 20, 2023 - 10:00pm