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Book + Speakers Series: Language Put to Work: The Making of the Global Call...

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555 Hamilton Street

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The SFU School of Communication's Book and Speaker Series is a space in which the School engages with recently published books by faculty and other members of the community. Experience an engaging conversation with the author about our featured publication of the month.
The event is moderated by a special guest. Our goal is to encourage fluid conversations between faculty and students and to celebrate the achievements of our scholarly community, think critically, pose questions and search for new avenues for research and activism. This event is all ages.

Publication:
Language Put to Work: The Making of the Global Call Centre Workforce

This book examines the striking rise of call centres over the past quarter century through the lens of the resistance and collective organizing generated by workers along the digital assembly lines. Drawing on field research in Atlantic Canada, Ireland, Italy, and New Zealand, Enda Brophy investigates the contested making of the transnational call centre workforce and its integration into the circuits of global capitalism. Moving beyond depictions of call centre labour as either entirely liberated or utterly subordinated, Language Put to Work inquires into the forms of work refusal and insubordination provoked by the spread of these communicative workplaces, including informal strategies of quitting, slacking and sabotage, conventional trade union activity, tactical innovations at the margins of the labour movement, and forms of self-organization forged by workers outside of the established trade union movement. Weaving rich empirical evidence together with political-economic analysis and theories of resistance, this book argues that the submission of language to the production of value in the call centre is a process of proletarianization rather than professionalization, and that the new working class has widely opposed this transformation.


Author:
Enda Brophy teaches in the School of Communication and is an Associate in Labour Studies at SFU. He is the author of Language Put to Work: The Making of the Global Call Centre Workforce, winner of the Canadian Communication Association’s Gertrude J. Robinson book of the year award and the Canadian Association of Work and Labour Studies book of the year award in 2018. He has translated numerous works by Italian scholars, including Gigi Roggero’s The Production of Living Knowledge: Crisis of the University and Transformation of Labor in Europe and North America and Giovanna Dalla Costa’s The Work of Love: Unpaid Housework, Poverty and Sexual Violence at the Dawn of the 21st Century. With Greig de Peuter and Nicole Cohen he is at work on Creative Class Conflict: Challenging Labour Precarity in the Cultural Industries, to be published with Pluto Press.


Respondent:

Anita Zaenker is Director of Organizing at the BC Federation of Labour. She started organizing while as an undergraduate student at the University of Victoria, when she helped teaching assistants and research assistants unionize with CUPE and achieve collective bargaining rights. Since then, she has worked in a range of roles in BC’s labour movement, including digital and field campaigns, research, government relations, member education, and process facilitation. As Organizing Director at the BC Fed, Anita provides training, research, and strategic support to help unions organize more workers into unions, and to keep their members organized for success.

Bryan D. Palmer, a former editor of Labour/Le Travail, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, is the author or editor of more than 20 books. A number of them have won national awards, including his co-authored study, published in 2016, Toronto’s Poor: A Rebellious History. His James P. Cannon and the Origins of the American Revolutionary Left, 1890-1928 (2007) won the Wallace K. Ferguson Prize awarded by the Canadian Historical Association, designating it the best book published by a Canadian historian in any field other than Canadian history. Palmer routinely publishes articles in international scholarly journals, such as International Review of Social History and American Historical Review, as well as in forums like Canadian Dimension and Jacobin.

Sid Shniad worked as the Research Director at the Vancouver-based Telecommunications Workers Union (TWU) from 1980 to 2009. He been has been active in the labour, antiwar and social solidarity movements over the past 40 years, including the BC Organization to Fight Racism, the Vancouver-based antiwar coalition StopWar.ca, and the Canada-Palestine Support Network (CanPalNet). He is a founding member of the Palestine solidarity organization Independent Jewish Voices Canada, where he currently serves as a member of the national steering committee. His life's desire is to see justice for Palestine as well as the rebirth of a militant, powerful, solidaristic labour movement focused on confronting the horrors of neolberalism.

Please note alcohol served at this event and will only be served to those over 19+ with two pieces of valid government issued identification.

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555 Hamilton Street

Vancouver, BC V6B 2R1

Canada

View Map

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