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Intersectional Histories, Overdetermined Fortunes: Understanding Mexican and US Domestic Worker Movements

February 6, 20194:00 pm6:00 pm


What determines whether movements of informal workers succeed or fail? Using cases of domestic-worker movements in Mexico and the United States, Tilly seeks to  build upon the literature on social movements and intersectionality by adding historical analysis of the movements’ evolution through a cross-national analysis of movement differences.

Historically, these two movements have been propelled by multiple streams of activism corresponding to shifting salient intersectional identities and frames, always including gender but incorporating other elements as well. Comparatively, the US domestic-worker movement recently has had greater success due to superior financial resources and greater political opportunities – advantages due in part precisely to intersectional identities resonant with potential allies. However, this relative advantage was not always present and may not persist. By comparing the historical changes and cross-national contrasts between these two movements, Tilly draws greater conclusions about informal-worker organizing and its potential for social change.


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Chris Tilly is a professor of urban planning at the University of California, Los Angeles . He formerly served as Chair of the Board at Grassroots International, and editor of Dollars and Sense, a popular economics magazine. His research has involved issues of community development, labor and employment.

In addition to his academic work, he has written for the Huffington Post and been quoted in the New York Times on issues of labor market inequality and public policy.



Catherine Fisk is the Barbara Nachtrieb Armstrong Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. She regularly teaches Labor Law, Employment Law, and Employment Discrimination, along with Civil Procedure, First Amendment, and Legal Profession. In addition to teaching and writing, Fisk works with students on pro bono litigation, principally writing briefs in federal and state appellate courts on labor issues, and in labor practicum projects doing legislative and policy advocacy focused on issues confronting low wage workers.


Leslie Salzinger is an Associate Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. She is an ethnographer, focused on gender, feminist theory, economic sociology, and neoliberalism. Much of her research has focused on Latin America. Her primary theoretical interests lie in the cultural constitution of economic processes, and in the creation of subjectivities within political economies.



This event is co-sponsored by the UC Berkeley Center for Latin American Studies, Center for Research on Social Change, Center for the Study of Law and Society, Latinx Research Center/Center for Latino Policy Researchand Sociology Department.