[-empyre-] FW: lob

Jennifer Flores Sternad jf at post.harvard.edu
Thu May 15 23:47:54 EST 2008

i think this issue of Transversal is a good  point of reference for
the discussion on precarity that was elaborated at  the encuentro
Brian and Eduardo are referring to.


(& for  more info on the encuentro:  www.cceba.org.ar/evento/taller007.pl

the research of Precarias a la Deriva figured prominently in the
discussion; I'll paste below  one of their texts from Transversal

Adrift through the circuits of feminized precarious work
Precarias a la Deriva, 2004

Synopsis: we are precarious. Which is to say some good things
(accumulation of diverse knowledges, skills and abilities through work
and life experiences in permanent construction), and a lot of bad ones
(vulnerability, insecurity, poverty, social exposure). But our
situations are so diverse, so singular, that it is difficult for us to
find common denominators from which to depart or clear differences
with which to mutually enrich ourselves. It is complicated for us to
express ourselves, to define ourselves from the common ground of
precariousness: a precariousness which can do without a clear
collective identity in which to simplify and defend itself, but in
which some kind of coming together is urgent. We need to communicate
the lack and the excess of our work and life situations in order to
escape the neoliberal fragmentation that separates, debilitates and
turns us into victims of fear, exploitation, or the egotism of 'each
one for herself.' Above all, we want to enable the collective
construction of other life possibilities through the construction of a
shared and creative struggle.
-From the invitation to participate in the first derive, October 2002.

Precarias a la Deriva is an initiative between research and activism
which arose from the feminist social center La Eskalera Karakola in
Madrid, initially as a response to the general strike in Spain in June
of 2002. Faced with a mobilization which did not represent the kind of
fragmented, informal, invisible work that we do – our jobs were
neither taken into consideration by the unions that called the strike
nor effected by the legislation that provoked it – a group of women
decided to spend the day of the strike wandering the city together,
transforming the classic picket line into a picket survey: talking to
women about their work and their days. Are you striking?  Why? Under
what conditions do you work?  What kind of tools do you have to
confront situations that seem unjust to you?…

>From this first tentative experience came the impulse to organize an
ongoing research project. It is clear that we need tools for talking
about and intervening in new kinds of work -this terrain of labor
which often doesn't even have a name - so we set out to map the
territory, with one eye always set on the possibility of conflict.
This is a bid for survival arising out of our own needs: networks to
break solitude, words to talk about what is happening to us.

But who is this 'us'? We depart from a tentative category, almost an
intuition: can we use 'precariousness' as a common name for our
diverse and singular situations? How can we both seek common names and
recognize singularities, make alliances and comprehend difference? A
freelance designer and a sex worker have certain things in common -
the unpredictability and exposure of work, the continuity of work and
life, the deployment of a whole range of unquantifiable skills and
knowledges. But the difference in social recognition and the degree of
vulnerability is also clear. How shall we articulate our common need
without falling back upon identity, without flattening or homogenizing
our situations?

Instead of sitting still to settle all these doubts, we decided to set
off and work them out on the move. We chose a method that would take
us on a series of itineraries through the metropolitan circuits of
feminized precarious work, leading each other through our quotidian
environments, speaking in the first person, exchanging experiences,
reflecting together. These derives through the city defy the division
between work and life, production and reproduction, public and
private, to trace the spatial-temporal continuum of existence, the
double (or multiple) presence. More concretely: for a few months an
open and changing group of us went almost every week on a wandering
tour through the important spaces of daily life of women (ourselves,
friends, close contacts) working in precarious and highly feminized
sectors: language work (translations and teaching), domestic work,
call-shops, sex work, food service, social assistance, media
production. In order to structure our reflections a bit, we chose a
few axes of particular and common interest to guide us: borders,
mobility, income, the body, knowledge and relations, empresarial
logic, conflict. Talking, reflecting, video camera and tape-recorder
in hand, we went with the hope of communicating the experience and the
hypotheses we might derive from it, taking our own communication
seriously, not only as a tool of diffusion but as primary material for

The experience has been tremendously rich and a bit overwhelming. The
questions multiply, little is certain. But a few tentative hypotheses
emerge. In the first place, we know that precariousness is not limited
to the world of work. We prefer to define it as a juncture of material
and symbolic conditions which determine an uncertainty with respect to
the sustained access to the resources essential to the full
development of one's life. This definition permits us to overcome the
dichotomies of public/private and production/reproduction and to
recognize the interconnections between the social and the economic.
Second, more than a condition or a fixed position ('being precarious')
we prefer to think of precariousness as a tendency. In fact,
precariousness is not new (much of women's work, paid and unpaid, has
been precarious since the dawn of history). What is new is the process
by which this is expanding to include more and more social sectors,
not in a uniform manner (it would be difficult to draw a rigid or
precise line between the 'precarious' and the 'guaranteed' parts of
the population) but such that the tendency is generalized. Thus we
prefer to talk not about a state of precariousness but about
'precarization' as a process which effects the whole of society, with
devastating consequences for social bonds. Third, the territory of
aggregation (and perhaps of 'combat') for mobile and precarious
workers is not necessarily the 'work place' (how could it be, when
this so often coincides with one's own home, or someone else's, or
when it changes every few months, or when the possibilities of
coinciding with a substantial group of the same co-workers for long
enough to get to know each other is one in a thousand?) but rather
this metropolitan territory we navigate every day, with its billboards
and shopping centers, fast-food that tastes like air and every variety
of useless contracts.

In addition to these basic hypotheses and a mountain of doubts, we
have a few clues as to where to look next. First of all, and thanks to
the workshops we conducted on 'Globalized Care' we have managed to
work out a few points of attack. The crisis of care, or better, the
political articulation of this fact, which from one or the other side
of the sea effects all of us, is one of those points. We don't think
there is a simple way of posing the question, a single formula like a
social salary, salaries for housewives, distribution of tasks, or
anything like that. Any solutions will have to be combined. This is a
submerged and many-legged conflict, involving immigration policy, the
conception of social services, work conditions, family structure,
affect… which we will have to take on as a whole but with attention to
its specificities. And then there is our fascination with the world of
sexwork which we have been encountering bit by bit, and which once
again situates us in a complex map in which we also have to look at
migration policy and labor rights, but also rights in the realm of the
imaginary. There is a continuum here, which for the moment we are
calling Care-Sex-Attention,  and which encompasses much of the
activity in all of the sectors we have investigated. Affect, its
quantities and qualities, is at the center of a chain which connects
places, circuits, families, populations, etc. These chains are
producing phenomena and strategies as diverse as virtually arranged
marriages, sex tourism, marriage as a means of passing along rights,
the ethnification of sex and of care, the formation of multiple and
transnational households.

Second, we have talked about the need to produce slogans which are
able to group all these points. Past ones have become too limited for
us, too general, too vague. In the last session of the 'Globalized
Care' workshops we realized that some of these slogans could take us
into spaces as ambivalent but as necessary as the re-vindication of
the ability to have and raise children, while at the same time taking
up the radical discourses of the family as a device of control,
dependence and culpabilization of women.

Third, the necessity of constructing points of aggregation is clear.
Curiously, our process of wandering the city has led us to value more
the denied right to territorialize ourselves. If this
territorialization cannot take place in a mobile and changing work
place, then we will have to construct more open and diffuse spaces
within this city-enterprise. The Laboratorio de Trabajadores that we
are considering constructing would be an operative place/moment to
come together with our conflicts, our resources (legal resources,
work, information, mutual care and support, housing, etc.), our
information and our sociability. To produce agitation and reflection.
A good idea, and a difficult one: at the moment we are thinking about
it, not only the practical aspects but particularly the capacity this
might have to construct itself as an attractor, connector and
mobilizer of sectors as different as domestic workers and telephone

Fourth, we hope to strengthen the local and international alliances we
have established in the process so far. The book and the video which
we have just published are meant as a means to this end. We will use
the video to return to the spaces we have passed through in the past
year or so, to the health center and to the neighborhood associations,
in the plaza and in cyberspace, to keep open the conversations we have

Fifth, we underline the importance of public utterances and
visibility: if we want to break social atomization, we have to
intervene with strength in the public sphere, circulate other
utterances, produce massive events which place precariousness as a
conflict upon the table, linking it to the questions of care and
sexuality. There are ideas circulating, possibilities yet
underdeveloped, for this kind of intervention both at a local and an
international level, which we hope to pursue together with the many
women and collectives with whom we have been in contact. For the
moment, we detect three types of latent conflicts (or conflicts which
exist but are invisible or individual): 1) generalized absenteeism
from non-professional work (telemarketing, chain-store retail and
service); 2) the demand for other contents and other forms within the
precarious professions (nursing, communications) and; 3) the demand
for recognition in the traditionally invisible sectors (domestic and
sex work). The hybridization of these types must be taken into
account, and our strategies be drawn from the resources, modalities
and opportunities that these particular kinds of work provide. In this
we have seen a few interesting experiments – from the rebel call-shop
workers to the media workers who have used the tools they have at hand
to project other messages – and in coordination we hope to generate
more experiments.

And sixth, we begin to consciously encounter the need to mobilize
common economic and infrastructural resources. We want to be able to
'free' people, just like the parties do: free from illegality, free
from precariousness. We could organize a marriage agency… we can
disobey, falsify, pirate, shelter and whatever else occurs to us. The
proposal of the Laboratorio de Trabajadores space, as well as almost
any other proposal, requires money. We don't want to fall into the
star system, touring and talking and not developing the local network
that is so important to us, nor do we want to fall into the dependency
of subventions. The resources we're concerned about are as much
immaterial and affective as they are material. Our bid is to construct
a pro comun. To do this it is necessary to collectivize knowledge and
networks, breaking the logic of individual maximization to which the
intellectual agencies of the city of renown have accustomed us.

One thing leads to another. From the derives to more derives, from
workshops to thousands more dialogues and debates, demonstrations,
public spaces, the possibility of accumulation. Beyond the politics of
the gesture: density, history, links, narration, territory… to be

Article to be published in Feminist Review

On Thu, May 15, 2008 at 6:28 AM, Eduardo Molinari
<archivocaminante at yahoo.com.ar> wrote:
> Dear Brian, dear Cara,
> when I said that "precarity" is a central concept in argentina,
> I'm talking about POVERTY.
> We can't think that "precarity" have a good meaning in our societies (southamerican). Is a bad joke to think that without resources
> we will do our activities in a better way.
> Is a political hipocresy for me to talk in this way.
> This was for me the "dificult" part of Risler/Bergel "experience".
> I don't want to organize our real social troubles with this concept.
> We have poverty, not precarity.
> Precarity (in argentina) is part of the discursse of "flexibilization",
> totally in the line of the economical change of the 90.
> we are in danger (in the sense that we will be "lost in translation")
> if we use this word, because precarity for many young people in the G8 countries is a kind of stress, of emotional vibration when they feel
> not totally sure about their professional future.
> But for us is not stress, is not an "exception state".
> sorry, totally respect, but...
> eduardo
> Eduardo Molinari / Archivo Caminante
> Aramburu 880, Dto.1 (1640) Martínez
> Provincia de Buenos Aires – Argentina
> 0541 1 47 98 48 35
> --- El jue 15-may-08, brian whitener <iwaslike at hotmail.com> escribió:
>> De: brian whitener <iwaslike at hotmail.com>
>> Asunto: [-empyre-] FW: lob
>> Para: empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>> Fecha: jueves, 15 de mayo de 2008, 4:06 am
>> >
>> > "You are true Cara!!! precarity and starvation
>> are central questions today.
>> > In argentina, post-industry don't mean nothing. We
>> didn't have NEVER a real national industry. Is
>> post-nothing.
>> > but then... your question is also our question."
>> >
>> > Precarity: a useful category in Latin America?
>> >
>> > there was an encurentro organized by Julia Risler and
>> Martin Bergel in BA
>> >
>> >
>> http://estrecho.indymedia.org/newswire/display/21374/index.php
>> >
>> > i'm not sure what came of it, but i heard the
>> experience was both interesting and dificult.
>> >
>> > brian
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >> Date: Tue, 13 May 2008 17:50:47 -0700
>> >> From: archivocaminante at yahoo.com.ar
>> >> Subject: Re: [-empyre-] expanded (CB)
>> >> To: empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>> >>
>> >> Wonderrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
>> >> fulllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll
>> >> maillllllllllllllllllllllllllllll.
>> >>
>> >> many images here dear Cara!
>> >> thank you very much.
>> >>
>> >> I have time today to read your words.
>> >>
>> >> pigs pigs pigs pigs pigs pigs pigs pigs
>> >> pigs pigs pigs pigs pigs pigs pigs pigs
>> >> pigs pigs pigs pigs pigs pigs pigs pigs
>> >>
>> >> great.
>> >> and thank you for Alberto Grecoooooooooooooooooo!
>> >>
>> >> un abrazo for Marc&Christina!
>> >>
>> >> Very important your commentary about migrations in
>> America.
>> >> Is really very important.
>> >> I was 8 months last year in germany.
>> >> strongs feelings there, and one of them was the
>> question about migration in argentina.
>> >> Catholic - Jewuis traditions are very strong
>> tradition in argentina, they are in the "heart"
>> of our mixed / mestiza society.
>> >> Black people was killed, as slaves or
>> "soldiers" during the war against Paraguay.
>> >>
>> >> I imagine that protestant / calvinist, also
>> paganismus is working in the migrations of North America.
>> >>
>> >> Because of all this "migrations" I like
>> very much to know more about pre-hispanic cultures in
>> America. Is a central part of my investigation with
>> artistic methods.
>> >>
>> >> Very good the images of insite05!!!!! I like this!
>> Thank you very much!
>> >>
>> >> The last part of your mail is a very good
>> devolution,
>> >> I can say
>> >> YES YES YES, "we" CAN identify
>> >> material conditions that need to be addressed
>> >> without representing other!
>> >>
>> >> Because we will present them together,
>> >> like the blood of Genova in your mail.
>> >> Those red material conditions(saddly)are present.
>> >>
>> >>
>> >> For me is really a big challenge to identify these
>> "material conditions"
>> >> that have still a potence living or able to live.
>> >>
>> >> My Walking Archives / Archivo Caminante tries to
>> do this, not for putting them "in order", but to
>> transport.
>> >>
>> >> You are true Cara!!! precarity and starvation are
>> central questions today.
>> >> In argentina, post-industry don't mean
>> nothing. We didn't have NEVER a real national industry.
>> Is post-nothing.
>> >> but then... your question is also our question.
>> >>
>> >> eduardo
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>
>> >> Eduardo Molinari / Archivo Caminante
>> >> Aramburu 880, Dto.1 (1640) Martínez
>> >> Provincia de Buenos Aires – Argentina
>> >> 0541 1 47 98 48 35
>> >>
>> >>
>> >> --- El dom 11-may-08, Jennifer Flores Sternad
>> escribió:
>> >>
>> >>> De: Jennifer Flores Sternad
>> >>> Asunto: [-empyre-] expanded (CB)
>> >>> Para: "soft_skinned_space"
>> >>> Fecha: domingo, 11 de mayo de 2008, 6:56 pm
>> >>> from cara baldwin
>> >>> (thank you, cara!)
>> >>>
>> >>> ------ Forwarded Message
>> >>> From: Cara Baldwin
>> >>> Date: Sat, 10 May 2008 13:07:09 -0700
>> >>> To: "moarquech at yahoo.com.mx,
>> soft_skinned_space"
>> >>> ,
>> >>>
>> >>> Subject: Re: [-empyre-] Re: expanded
>> >>>
>> >>> Conversation in an elevator, . looking at the
>> stains on
>> >>> wood :
>> >>>
>> >>> --Which is better? This, or doing this?
>> >>>
>> >>> --This.
>> >>>
>> >>> --Bring him to see or bring them to see?
>> >>>
>> >>> --Bring them to see.
>> >>>
>> >>> Alberto Greco, from Manifesto Vivo-Dito, 1963
>> >>>
>> >>> back in the 90's (can't write this
>> without using a
>> >>> crackly old man
>> >>> voice) i was saving barricades in my apartment
>> for a rainy
>> >>> day. i put
>> >>> them on either side of the bridges that
>> connected the city
>> >>> and they
>> >>> quietly disappeared. i changed my underwear in
>> public and
>> >>> told
>> >>> everyone i was ana mendieta. learned about
>> chicano cultural
>> >>> politics
>> >>> and activism. met collaborators and friends
>> marc herbst and
>> >>> christina
>> >>> ulke and began years of conversation about
>> anything we
>> >>> could imagine
>> >>> and do together. following seattle we found
>> ourselves
>> >>> spending the
>> >>> summer in L.A. working with folks setting up
>> an la
>> >>> indymedia for the
>> >>> 2000 democratic national convention.
>> representation.
>> >>> organization, and
>> >>> lot's and lot's of
>> >>>
>> >>> pigs. pigs. pigs. pigs. pigs. p pigs. pigs.
>> pigs. pigs.
>> >>> pigs. pigs.
>> >>> pigs. pigs. pigs. pigs. pigs. pigs. pigs.
>> pigs. pigs. pigs.
>> >>> pigs.
>> >>> pigs. pigs. pigs. pigs. pigs. pigs. pigs.
>> pigs.
>> >>>
>> >>> brian holmes wrote about the "inflated
>> art scenes of
>> >>> the 90s" and that
>> >>> to "be an activist then was not
>> fashionable in any
>> >>> way, it was
>> >>> considered totally retrograde in artistic
>> circles."
>> >>> critique at this
>> >>> time lacked currency materially and culturally
>> (narrow
>> >>> sense of the
>> >>> word) from where i was standing. listening to
>> someone
>> >>> slather on about
>> >>> 68 and a postcolonial theorist's incisive
>> critique of
>> >>> metanarrative i
>> >>> wondered if the blood i'd seen in images
>> of the diaz
>> >>> school around
>> >>> genoa g8 was part of someone i loved.
>> >>>
>> http://www.nadir.org/nadir/initiativ/agp/free/genova/pics4a.htm
>> >>>
>> >>> adorno's "there is no love that is
>> not an
>> >>> echo." floating a desire to
>> >>> share the acoustic space in which we breath,
>> speak, feel
>> >>> and act in a
>> >>> way that is occupied and open—but not like a
>> yoga group.
>> >>>
>> >>> i also respond to eduardo molinari's
>> approach to the
>> >>> expanded,
>> >>> particularly considering migration patterns
>> across the
>> >>> americas and
>> >>> would only extend that history and migration
>> (not just
>> >>> recent. not
>> >>> just one way). grimson and kessler's on
>> argentina and
>> >>> the southern
>> >>> cone: neoliberalism and national imaginations,
>> and
>> >>> dunbar-ortiiz's
>> >>> roots of resistance speak to this in a
>> localized and
>> >>> concrete way.
>> >>>
>> >>> because of the relative economic stability in
>> north america
>> >>> during
>> >>> 2000 most of the art i saw produced/reproduced
>> in
>> >>> institutional
>> >>> contexts were either new media works of a post
>> modern or
>> >>> minimalist
>> >>> aesthetic or frothy blown out paintings meant
>> to illustrate
>> >>> 'networks
>> >>> and flows.' couldn't wait for
>> something to disrupt
>> >>> that. through the
>> >>> democratic national convention mobilizations
>> met sandra de
>> >>> la loza,
>> >>> working again with her, marc, christina and
>> ryan griffis
>> >>> and robby
>> >>> herbst on collectively organized and
>> community-based
>> >>> projects the 2004
>> >>> october surprise october surprise
>> >>> http://www.theoctobersurprise.org/
>> >>> and journal of aesthetics & protest
>> >>> http://www.joaap.org/ starting in
>> >>> 2001. the curator at the L.A. museum of
>> contemporary art
>> >>> who organized
>> >>> the experimental exercise of freedom (with
>> rina carvajal)
>> >>> needed an
>> >>> assistant— i was able to research and write
>> about artists
>> >>> from
>> >>> central, south america and italy if i held my
>> cards to my
>> >>> chest.
>> >>> actually, i was more like a child at the table
>> who would
>> >>> reemerge
>> >>> occasionally sticky with cobwebs. cards can
>> fit in your
>> >>> back pocket
>> >>> depending on who / where you are perceived to
>> be. the
>> >>> emphasis on
>> >>> institutional critique at california institute
>> of the arts
>> >>> was
>> >>> grounded even as it was too narrowly
>> circumscribed. met
>> >>> etcetera last
>> >>> october without a joint, sadly. first saw
>> their work in
>> >>> another
>> >>> institutional context at the centro cultural
>> de tijuana at
>> >>> inSITE
>> >>> 2005. bill kelly and sandra were there as
>> well. sunday
>> >>> morning as
>> >>> hurricane katrina wound toward new orleans
>> bill kelly,
>> >>> sandra and i
>> >>> sat the golden glow of the haudenschildGarage
>> listening to
>> >>> what i
>> >>> found fucked approaches to collectivity,
>> mobility and
>> >>> 'cultural'
>> >>> exchange. everyone was wearing white linen
>> except sandra
>> >>> and me who
>> >>> sat talking loudly shit (like children) in the
>> back.
>> >>>
>> http://www.insite05.org/internal.php?pid=17-357 women are
>> >>> among those
>> >>> compelled to learn early the many ways and to
>> what extent
>> >>> representation and invisibility are useful.
>> >>>
>> >>> can 'we' identify material conditions
>> that urgently
>> >>> need to be
>> >>> addressed w/out representing others? this is
>> an open
>> >>> question and one
>> >>> we work from and through every day. i'm on
>> an overpass
>> >>> with berries
>> >>> falling out of my mouth. precarity gives way
>> to starvation
>> >>> at some
>> >>> point and i would like to address that. the
>> black panther
>> >>> party
>> >>> breakfast program is art.
>> >>>
>> >>> in addition to 'post politics' what is
>> meant by
>> >>> 'post industrial' at
>> >>> this moment?
>> >>>
>> >>> sorry, I know I'm not following form
>> handing threads
>> >>> back in a tangled
>> >>> sticky ball.
>> >>>
>> >>> --
>> >>>
>> _______________________________________________
>> >>> empyre forum
>> >>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>> >>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
>> >>
>> >>
>> >> Yahoo! Encuentros.
>> >>
>> >> Ahora encontrar pareja es mucho más fácil,
>> probá el nuevo Yahoo! Encuentros
>> http://yahoo.cupidovirtual.com/servlet/NewRegistration
>> >> _______________________________________________
>> >> empyre forum
>> >> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>> >> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
>> >
>> > ________________________________
>> > Make Windows Vista more reliable and secure with
>> Windows Vista Service Pack 1. Learn more.
>> _________________________________________________________________
>> With Windows Live for mobile, your contacts travel with
>> you.
>> http://www.windowslive.com/mobile/overview.html?ocid=TXT_TAGLM_WL_Refresh_mobile_052008_______________________________________________
>> empyre forum
>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
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> Solicitá tu nueva Tarjeta de crédito. De tu PC directo a tu casa. www.tuprimeratarjeta.com.ar
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
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Jennifer Flores Sternad
303.204.0003 (m)
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