Campus News

UGA to host international ‘Dirty Work’ conference May 17-19

The University of Georgia will host the 2018 Southern Labor Studies Association conference, a biannual gathering of scholars, students and activists.

The conference will be held in the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries and at other UGA and Athens sites
May 17-19. Registration, $90 for non-members and $65 for SLSA members, is available online at Several events will be free and open to the public.

Attendees from around the U.S., England, Northern Ireland and India will discuss the past and present of labor and working-class history in the U.S. South.

Panels, workshops, roundtables and keynotes will discuss many subjects including mining, farming, food processing, textiles, the nuclear power industry, foreign-owned auto factories, construction workers’ safety, black labor in the U.S. Army, Jim Crow, convict labor, anti-union sentiment, enslaved household workers and concubines in the American South and Latino/a workers. There will also be a special multimedia session on the 1991 Hamlet fire, which killed 25 workers in North Carolina.

Keynote presentations include “Heard it on the Grapevine: Slave Labor, Mobility and Power in Antebellum America” by Susan O’Donovan, the Dunavant University Professor at the University of Memphis, as well as a lunchtime keynote by Maurice Hobson of Georgia State University on the subject of his new book, The Legend of the Black Mecca: Politics and Class in the Making of Modern Atlanta.

Two authors of the multi-prize winning Like a Family: The Making of the Southern Cotton Mill World will participate as well as novelist Wiley Cash, whose forthcoming book tells the story of Ella May Wiggins, singer, spinner, single mom and martyr of the 1929 Loray Mills Strike in Gastonia, North Carolina.

Among the sessions free and open to the public are a talk by Vimal Kumar, founder of the Movement for Scavenger Community, on the collection by hand of human waste in India; two sessions on organizing in the South today; and a mini-film festival, starting at 8:30 a.m. on May 19.

Film screenings include A Strike and an Uprising by Anne Lewis; Union Time: Fighting for Workers’ Rights by Matthew Barr; The Committee by University of Central Florida faculty and students; and A Day’s Work, a film on temp work by Dave DeSario.

The last event, also free and open to the public, will be a panel discussion on “Queer Labor in the South” at 7 p.m. on May 19 in the Morton Theatre.

The “Dirty Work” conference is funded in part by the Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, the Office of Research, the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts, the Southern Historical Association, the history department in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, the Southern Labor Archives and the University of Georgia Press.