Work In and Out of Prison

Against the Grain

Prisons, jails, immigrant detention centers. We know them as places of unfreedom, but we don’t often think about them as places of work. Yet compulsory labor is a key part of incarceration in this country. Sociologist Erin Hatton discusses the state of coerced work in prisons, the lack of worker protections, and how work has …

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Who were the Jacobins? What did they believe in, what did they accomplish during the French Revolution, and how should they be judged? Micah Alpaugh discusses the Jacobin clubs’ social and political stances, the policies they enacted, and the Jacobins’ turn toward terror. Micah Alpaugh, ed., The French Revolution: A History in Documents Bloomsbury, 2021 … Continued


The experience of trans people has burst into the mainstream in the last decade, although the struggles of gender variant people are nothing new. Jack Halberstam talks about the politics of categorization, generational differences, radical vs. single-issue politics, and anti-trans feminism. (Encore presentation). Resources: Jack Halberstam, Trans* A Quick and Quirky Account of Gender Variability … Continued


A protracted but determined struggle to defeat an airport construction project produced an extraordinary victory. In the face of brutal police repression, Isabelle Fremeaux, Jay Jordan, and others created an autonomous zone and prevented the construction of a massive international airport on 4,000 acres of fields, forest, and wetlands in western France. Fremeaux and Jordan … Continued


Trusted, impartial and independent? Or largely unaccountable and part of the Establishment? Sociologist Tom Mills considers the evidence on the enormously influential British Broadcasting Corporation or BBC, which is much revered by progressives in the United States and elsewhere. (Encore presentation.) Resources: Tom Mills, The BBC: Myth of a Public Service Verso, 2020 photo: Pixabay


Program guests’ insights sometimes have to be left out of the final, edited interviews because of time constraints. This potpourri of previously unaired remarks addresses colonial-era policing in New York City (Ben Brucato); the expansive nature of police power (Mark Neocleous); grand juries as a tool of state repression (Michael Staudenmaier); James Baldwin’s criticisms of … Continued


There have been numerous exposés of the conditions in factory farms, where livestock are crammed together by the hundreds of thousands. But anthropologist Alex Blanchette argues that animal agribusiness, rather than being a sordid, exceptional case, has represented the cutting edge of capitalist industry for more than one hundred years. He discusses the exploitation of … Continued