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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"Negotiating Dignity: Flight Attendant Labor and the Age of Neoliberalism"

Please join "Critical Dialogues: Crossings in American Studies" for our first meeting of the semester. Ryan Murphy, a Ph.D. Candidate in American Studies, will be workshopping his dissertation introduction, "Negotiating Dignity: Flight Attendant Labor and the Age of Neoliberalism" with comments by Professor Tracey Deutsch. The paper precirculates, so please see the attached PDF.

"Negotiating Dignity: Flight Attendant Labor and the Age of Neoliberalism"
Monday, Sept. 21
Scott Hall Commons
Refreshments will be provided.
Flight Attendant Labor and the Age of Neoliberalism
Dissertation Abstract:
This project analyzes the working lives and activism of flight
attendants since 1970. I argue that flight attendants demonstrate why
the corporation has been a central but deeply troubled focus for mid-
and late-20th century social movements. Flight attendant organizations
capture the labor movement at its most vigorous, innovative, and
effective, leveraging queer and feminist mobilization to garner
material gains from employers in the 1970s. Such advances allowed the
union contract - and the robust wages and generous benefits it
guaranteed - the principle conduit of feminist agency and advocacy.
But as flight attendants re-valued feminized labor, the airline
industry became a crucible for neoliberal reforms. By 1985,
comprehensive deregulation undermined established carriers and
unionized workforces. As the industry's changing economic circuitry
ruptured labor contracts, flight attendants were forced to decouple
labor activism from its longstanding investment in collective
bargaining and private employment. The project traces how flight
attendants' increasingly direct challenge to free market governance is
a horizon of labor, queer, and feminist politics in a globalizing
See attachments below for flyer and dissertation intro.