Making a reading list for an academic who is in the process of dissertating is sort of silly. While researching and writing, reading becomes a sort of spontaneous and unpredictable hodge-podge symphony. I’ll write a paragraph using one theory, but it will totally remind me of a concept from another theorist, which will then remind me of an article I read in the NYT, which will then lead me to a blog post someone wrote. It’s actually quite fun—a treasure map, of sorts, but to a treasure that does not yet exist.
That being said, there are a few books I’m definitely going to be reading, even if I’m lead to a million other things along the way, and even if I realize that only a couple chapters of something might be valuable. (Interested in what non-academic books I’m reading? Check out my health/food-related reads here, and my “fun reads” here).
The Toughest Beat: Politics, Punishment, and the Prison Officers Union in California
Joshua Page (2011)
This book “argues that the Golden State’s prison boom fueled the rise of one of the most politically potent and feared interest groups in the nation: the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA).” I’m interested in reading this because I plan to make an argument in my diss that says if labor really wants to be committed to serving their most marginalized and oppressed workers, they can’t continue to maintain the same relationship to prisons.
We Are the Union: Democratic Unionism and Dissent at Boeing
Dana Cloud (2011)
I’m excited to read this book for a lot of reasons. I think I’ll gain a lot from Cloud’s argument, but I’m also excited to read more from a Comm scholar who writes from a political activist perspective.
Outline of a Theory of Practice
Pierre Bourdieu (1977)
I flirted with the idea of habitus in my master’s thesis, mostly drawing on questions of space, but I’m interested in deciding how I feel about habitus as it relates to class-position. Several scholars have found it useful to use Bourdieu’s theory to present a less rigid conception of class, and I might end up finding it helpful in discussing the LGBT working-class population (and the general shifting conceptions of class qua labor unions in the US) We shall see!
Freedom With Violence: Race, Sexuality, and the US State
Chandan Reddy (2011)
I’ve already read two chapters of this, and had some problems with it, but I have a feeling it’s going to be very useful for my diss, particularly as a way to build on already-existing queer and queer of color critiques of “rights”-based and “anti-discrimination” discourse.
The Production of Difference: Race and the Management of Labor in US History
David Roediger, Elizabeth Esch (2012)
This book looks fascinating, and totally important for anyone who does any work on labor history. And while I’m no historian, I think reading this will help me articulate the current conjuncture of work and particularity with more insight.
A MILLION MORE THINGS! Articles! Books! Blogs! It doesn’t end!