research essay

You can choose either theme 1 or 2 and answer base on the instruction.


Final Paper – Cultures of Precarity (15% or 15pts) Given the breadth of issues concerning labor and care (tenuous and otherwise) that we’ve covered up until now in our course, your final paper (6-8pgs) will expand on one of two forms of labor that we have recurrently encountered (both in this class as well as, I’m sure, in your day-to-day life) that I’ve listed here below.

You will need to research and select TWO artists (one based in the U.S. and one international) whose practices engage with your chosen issue from below. Once you have selected two artists for your paper, you will need to discuss how their artwork (2-4 works total) visualizes (or formally conveys) the issue at hand (theme 1 or theme 2) as well as any similarities/differences between their practices. This will require a bit of research on your end as you will need to contextualize their work in relation to their specific geographic locations. For instance, someone creating work that responds to gendered labor as a white, middle-class American in the U.S. is going to be starkly different/responding to a different set of politics than a poor/lower-income BIPOC producing artwork on the same issue in say, Latin America. Remember, our social “realities” matter and influence the way that we engage with and perceive the world! The two themes that you may choose from are as follows:


1. Theme 1: How does this artwork engage with issues of domestic labor, specifically in relation to women and invisible/gendered work? What social expectations and stereotypes influence and frame what these particular works are responding to and/or contesting (e.g. the “American” dream, disproportionately of color/lower-income female caregivers/caretakers, etc.)? Domestic labor may include, but is not limited to, childcare, surrogacy/adoption, caregiving/taking, sex work/camming, household caretakers/workers, and general “home” based labor.


2. Theme 2: How does this artwork engage with issues of migrant and temporal (or unstable and contingent) labor? Similar to domestic labor, migrant labor is frequently rendered invisible as a means of “cloaking” forms of “naturalized” material/social production (that is, landscaping, textile and factory workers, day laborers, etc.). Given that many of the struggles faced by migrant/temporal laborers have garnered more mainstream visibility due to the growing gig economy (both in the U.S. and abroad), how can we confront issues of precarity without romanticizing or victimizing those involved? How does the artwork contest and/or perpetuate these assumptions and lived realities? Migrant and temporal labor may include, but is not limited to, day laborers, contract or temp. positions, gig workers, factory and textile workers, caregivers/service-staff, field work, and more.


Your final paper should follow the same general format of the short paper and must utilize (as with all of our papers) Chicago Manual Style. As mentioned above, you will need to select TWO different artists with one being based in the U.S. and the other abroad. Once you have selected both your artists and theme, you will then need to choose 2-4 artworks (either one or two from each artist) that you feel most successfully engage with/represent your chosen theme. Final papers must be six (6) pages total (double-spaced) and must cite at LEAST 2-3 academic/scholarly sources (you may use the articles/texts that we’ve read in class, or any other relevant scholarly and peer-reviewed sources). If you are unsure about whether or not your artists/artwork fit within your selected theme, please feel free to reach out and check in with me. I’m happy to lend help whenever and wherever I’m able to!


Final Cultures of Precarity Paper 6 page

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