The politics of race, space, and work in the U.S. House cafeterias.
This Visiting Research Scholar Lecture is presented by Dr. James R. Jones
In this lecture, Dr. Jones analyzes how federal lawmakers, as overseers of the congressional workplace, retreat from the very principles they promulgate in federal workplace law, and alternatively, maintain a workplace that is above the law. To do so, lawmakers have had to exempt themselves from regulations they impose on the nation. Furthermore, to accomplish these goals they have privatized public goods, namely visiting and working in the Capitol. To illustrate this paradoxical relationship, he investigates the restaurant system in the U.S. House of Representatives as a strategic research site. Congressional dining rooms are the backstage to legislative decision-making and locations of quotidian drama. They also have been a principle site for Black employment within a racially stratified workforce inside the Capitol. This makes the cafeteria more than just a place to eat, but a battleground where two groups of actors clash over the boundaries of legislative power. On one side are lawmakers who seek complete control over the congressional workplace. Opposing them are Black workers who are resisting the conditions of their labor that are outside the purview of the legal system. In all, these congressional eateries capture the behind-the-scenes confrontations to resist and establish a racial order in the legislature, over the last 150 years.
Space is limited. Open to Faculty and Graduate Students Only