During the 2010-11 academic year, Jill Harrison gave the fall lecture. Jill’s title was “Illegality at work: Deportability and the productive new era of immigration.” The talk focused on the research area Jill moved into after joining the DCES faculty. In her talk, she identified how recent escalations in immigration enforcement and changes in migration practices affect the ability of the state to continue to serve two of its key ‘productive’ functions: protecting capital accumulation within industry and ensuring the state’s own political legitimacy in the eyes of the public. Jill drew on the ethnographic research that she and her research assistants conducted with Latino migrant dairy farm workers in Wisconsin to examine the ways in which a group of migrant workers experiences the process of being enforced as ‘illegal’ bodies. Jill suggested that migrant dairy workers’ palpable sense of ‘deportability’ articulates with the specific structure of dairy work in ways that make the economically and politically ‘ideal’ migrant: compliant at work and invisible otherwise.
In the spring, Randy Stoecker gave the department lecture. Randy titled his talk “Student Civic Engagement in Wisconsin and Beyond: Is Academia Irrelevant?” Randy began by noting that service-learning is all the rage in higher education today, especially at the University of Wisconsin where “The Wisconsin Idea” is touted as the nadir of higher education civic engagement. However, according to Randy, it appears that higher education civic engagement is limited to only those activities that support the current political-economic system. Randy reviewed activist student civic engagement at multiple higher education institutions, including the University of Wisconsin, and he found that students involved in system-challenging activist engagement are not offered course credit, campus engagement awards, or other forms of official institutional encouragement. He pointed an important contradiction in UW policy: while the Wisconsin Idea is rooted in the expectation that the university will be engaged with the significant policy issues of the day, official university policy expressly prohibits such engagement.
Our two lectures embodied the best of the engaged scholarship that characterizes much of the work in the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology. In the coming year, we will look forward to talks by Gary Green and Leann Tigges.