LatCrit 2013 Call for Papers

Resistance Rising: Theorizing and Building Cross-Sector Movements

The carnage of the Great Depression and resistance from below produced a new  “social structure of accumulation,” an “invisible handshake” between elites and workers/residents that offered relative labor and social stability in exchange for decent wages and a social safety net. This grand bargain, which fueled unprecedented middle-class prosperity in the United States in the mid-20


century, began to unravel in the 1970’s and 1980’s. In its place, global neoliberalism is rapidly reshaping a new social structure of accumulation (“SSA”). The new SSA dramatically alters the landscape for collective bargaining by workers in the name of “right to work” laws, allows unlimited corporate influence in federal elections in the name of “free speech,” and transforms public goods and services into private commodities in the name of “efficiency” or “deficit-reduction.” Global neoliberalism, in combination with its ideological packaging, roll back the welfare state and create a new social imaginary—one in which once-vibrant movements for social change are enervated and disciplined by the new regimes of economic and political austerity, policed by post-racialist and post-identitarian frameworks.

With the rise of neoliberal ideologies, there emerge new tensions and contradictions inherent in a system that seeks to hoard racial and economic privilege for the few. The current failure of neoliberal economic policies creates an interesting moment of possibility for progressive alliances and alternatives. Out of the ashes of harsh austerity programs, movements are stirring. Communities are pushing back against the attack on labor union organizing, the dehumanization of immigrants, the rollback of reproductive autonomy, the retreat from race, and attempts to cabin gender, sexuality and family formation.

  • In 2007, for example, the “Right to the City” alliance formed in Los Angeles bringing together economic, environmental, LGBTQ, race-based, immigrant, and youth movements for social justice. By premising the “right to the city” upon the right of inhabitants to shape the decisions in their urban environment, this movement posits a different spatial idea of justice and a more democratic system of political belonging based on residence.

  • Within a month of Barack Obama’s election as President in 2008, 240 workers at Republic Doors and Windows staged a sit-down strike in their Chicago factory to protest the illegal act of the company closing without 30-day notice. The workers were predominantly blue-collar union members of color—African Americans and immigrants from Mexico and Central America.

  • Up to 100,000 people swarmed Wisconsin’s capitol to protest Governor Scott Walker’s anti-union legislation in February and March 2011, a mass resistance that laid the groundwork for the Occupy movement the following September in Zucotti Park and beyond.

  • In March 2011, hundreds of undocumented immigrant youth or “DREAMers” gathered in Memphis to protest the more than one million people deported under President Obama’s first term, thus sparking a national movement for undocumented youth to become visible and active for comprehensive immigration reform.

  • In the November 2011 elections, Mississippi voters rejected the controversial “personhood” amendment, designed to set up a legal challenge to

    Roe v. Wade


  • That same year, Ohio voters rejected state legislative attempts to limit public employee collective bargaining rights, including a prohibition on the right to strike.

  • In fall 2012, the Chicago Teachers Union delivered a twin blow to the anti-union movement and the corporate takeover of public schools disguised as “school reform.” The successful strike emboldened parents, scholars, and students to join across constituencies to build a full-throated protest against school closings, “charterization,” high-stakes testing, and unaccountable leadership.

As these examples suggest, communities are coming together across traditional sectors to organize dynamic modes of resistance. We welcome all LatCrit scholars and newcomers to the project to submit proposals, particularly those that reference or incorporate any of the following themes: Theorizing Resistance; Organizing Resistance; and Building Cross-Sector Theories and Movements.

Theme 1) Theorizing Resistance:

  • Civil rights and race-based organizing have come under attack analytically and politically from the left and the right. At the same time, the discourse of human rights has moved to center stage, politically and ethically. But does the recent turn to human rights by traditional race-based organizations, NGO’s and philanthropic organizations challenge, or, reinforce hegemonic (neo)liberal market logics that may in fact comprise regimes of racialized accumulation?

  • How can the “right to the city” framework, designed to conceptualize the lived linkages between urbanization and capitalism, be expanded to better take into account gender or immigration? For example, insofar as immigration invokes national plenary powers and, thus, the nation-state, as well as a normatively national identity of citizenship, the right to the city framework in contrast would emphasize an urban spatial justice representing a “scale shift,” one that deemphasizes the role of the nation-state and nation-scaled institutions and normativities. What might this scale-shift mean for immigration advocates and theorists? In what ways might LatCrit scholars productively engage this promising new approach?
  • How does “post-racial pragmatism” and “post-racial agnosticism” affect the work of critical race and LatCrit scholars across the range of fields comprised by the project? How do we define the boundaries of these intellectual projects—or do we avoid boundary-drawing altogether? How does work analyzing the racialization of these fields of knowledge offer a rebuttal to these post-racial strategies?

  • In light of the demise of the old social structures of accumulation—Pax Americana, capital-labor accord, capital-citizen accord—what are the components of the new social structures of accumulation under neoliberalism? How might LatCrit and critical race theory effectively engage a critique of post-racialism/post-identitarianism in its neoliberal context?

Theme 2) Organizing Resistance

  • Post-WWII prosperity and its accompanying social compact or “grand bargain” provided an infrastructure of material and political support for civil rights, feminist, LGBTQ, and labor organizing in the latter half of the twentieth century. How might activists and organizers survive today in the era of fiscal (and ideological) austerity? To what extent does private philanthropic support for community and advocacy organizations define, and possibly distort, the mission for such organizations?
  • What new communication strategies are necessary to combat the enervation of critical political capacities through the post-racial/post-feminist/trans-phobic/neoliberal “common sense” purveyed through public discourse? How might we combat media framings that render racism and social inequality invisible/transcended?
  • What successful options exist for traditional civil rights and race-based advocacy organizations like NAACP and MALDEF or political formations like “LatCrit” or “faculty of color” to engage the imagination and aspirations of youth and the next generation of activists? What are the challenges of addressing “generational drift” between those who grew up as noisy “Bakke babies” as opposed to those who may be more likely to adopt the a

    confrontational style of post-racial pragmatism? How should LatCrit law faculty navigate the coming retrenchment era of legal education?

Theme 3) Building Cross-Sector Theories and Movements

  • Recent trends in philanthropy emphasize efforts to encourage “cross-silo” or “cross-sector” organizing. To what extent does this move represent the continuing “retreat from race,” necessitated in part by closing philanthropic purse strings for race-conscious and “affirmative action” projects following the financial crisis of 2008? How might progressive race scholars/activists contribute to the elaboration of cross-sector movement-building? What existing critical frameworks or theories might be useful for such a project?
  • What lessons can be learned from local Chicago movements, like the Republic Window sit-down factory strike of 2008, after which workers (predominantly immigrants and people of color) united to buy back the factory in 2012 to be run as a worker-owned cooperative (“New Era Windows”) that seeks to produce high-end, energy-efficient green windows? What lessons can be learned from the Chicago LGBTQ Immigrant Rights Project and the emergence of the “Undocuqueer” movements? Are these short-term alliances of convenience, or do they represent a more foundational reconfiguration of the definition of community and justice?
  • What role can scholars play in fomenting cross-sector/cross-constituency movement building? How might LatCrit scholars understand the university as an institutional site that historically has been always already racialized/gendered/class-ed/ and sexed? How might LatCrit scholars build effective partnerships and alliances between university and community to actualize intersectional and cross-sector movement building?
  • What can LatCrit scholars learn from LGBTQ scholars and activists challenging “homonationalism” and the practice of “pinkwashing”?

The Standing Guideposts:

While we will structure plenary panels to focus on the themes of LatCrit 2013, we will continue the practice of creating spaces within the conference for an inclusive conversation among scholars and activists extending beyond the primary theme. In addition, the following five Standing Guideposts of LatCrit Conferences are offered as possible points of reference for re-evaluating familiar issues and encouraging critical forays into additional substantive areas which we have collectively utilized over the years:

  1. Papers or panels that focus on the multiple dimensions of Latina/o identity and its relationship to current legal, political and cultural regimes or practices. The ideal is to explicate aspects of the Latina/o experience in legal discourse, both domestically and internationally. Nonetheless, you are free to address identity issues or structures of power that do not specifically touch upon Latina/o identity or the law.

  2. Papers or panels especially salient to Chicago and the Midwestern United States, The U.S. Regional emphasis ensures that the Conference’s geographic rotation will illuminate local issues, helping us understand how local particularities produce (inter)national patterns of privilege and subordination.

  3. Papers or panels that elucidate cross-group histories or experiences with law and power. In this way, each Conference aims to explore not only intra-Latina/o diversities, but also to contextualize Latina/o experience within inter-group frameworks and Euro-Heteropatriarchy. Accordingly, we constantly ask how we can create progressive movements, communities, and coalitions that meaningfully recognize difference.

  4. Papers and panels that connect or contrast LatCrit theory to or contrast it with other genres of scholarship, both within and beyond law and legal theory, including but not limited to the various strands of critical outsider jurisprudence (critical race theory, feminist legal theory, queer legal theory) that critique class, gender, race, sexuality and other categories of social-legal identities and relations.

  5. Papers or panels that highlight


    with scholarship that builds on histories and transformative practices of social justice movements.

The deadline to submit proposals is

Monday, June 12, 2013

. Proposals should be submitted via our

online paper submission


located on the LatCrit web site.


To continue developing the rich LatCrit literature that has arisen from past conferences, papers for inclusion in the conference symposium issue will be due

December 31, 2013

. More detailed guidelines will be available at the conference.

For general information and questions about the event please email Andrea Freeman at:

The Conference Site

As in past years, the conference site is designed to be accessible, comfortable, self-contained and affordable in order to promote both formal and informal interaction, and to foster a relaxed community ambiance even as we engage in our serious work. This year, we will be staying, and holding all sessions, at the

Hilton O’Hare

in Chicago. This four-star hotel is the only one directly connected to O’Hare airport for easy transfer from your flight, with downtown Chicago at your fingertips with the blue line ‘el’ also onsite.

We will send the hotel contact information to you, together with the conference registration materials, in the spring, so that you can make hotel reservations directly at the same time as you register for the conference. Partners and family members are warmly welcome to join us.

Hilton O’Hare will offer special conference rates for attendees of LatCrit 2013.


See generally

David Harvey, The Enigma of Capital and the Crisis of Capitalism (2010); INCITE!, The Revolution will Not be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex (2007).


See generally

Devon W. Carbado,

Critical What What?

, 43 Conn. L. Rev. 1593 (2011); Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw,

Twenty Years of Critical Race Theory: Looking Back to Move Forward

, 43 Conn. L. Rev. 1253 (2011); Nancy Leong,

Racial Capitalism

, Harvard L. Rev. (forthcoming 2013).