Lovin, Laura

Job Placement: Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship, European Commission (2015-2017)
Committee: J. Regulska, H. Davidson, M. Hawkesworth, E. Grosz
Dissertation: Women’s Labor in the Global City: Representations of Transnational Subjects and Spaces in Contemporary Visual Geographies

Bio

Laura Lovin received a B.A. in Special Education in 1997 and a B.A. in Sociology in 2000 from the University of Bucharest, Romania. She also received an M.A. degree in Cultural Studies from University of Bucharest in 2000 and an M.A. in Gender Studies from Central European University in Budapest, Hungary in 2003.

After completing her PhD in 2014, she received a two-year Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship from the European Commission. Her research project is "The Race, Class and Gender of Transnational Urban Labour: Romanian Workers in the Cities of London and NYC,” and her collaborating institution is the Weeks Centre for Social and Policy Research at London South Bank University.

Abstract

This dissertation explores depictions of working women in three transnational urban spaces, Sibiu (Romania), Berlin (Germany) and Newark (New Jersey, USA). In the aftermath of the cold war and in the midst of globalization, these cities represent marked sites in the geopolitical axes of "west"/"east." Each city has grappled with labor restructuring, the upward redistribution of wealth, urban dilapidation, and segregation. Each city has also deployed a commodified version of multiculturalism to foster tourism, corporate development, and diverse strategies for reinvestment and revitalization. Within these contexts, I looked for contemporary art projects that render topical phenomena such transnational work migration, changing labor practices, new modes of livelihood, and new gendered, racialized and classed identities. This dissertation relies on data and representational materials collected through extensive multi-location field research in Sibiu, Berlin and Newark. The case study on Sibiu foregrounds working women of three different ethnicities, Romanian, Romani and Saxon, and traces their articulation in relation to practices of transnational work migration. The case study on Berlin continues the engagement with transnational migrant workers. The theme of sexuality constitutes its core analytical dimension, as representations of voluntary and coerced sex work take the center stage of the visual arts projects encountered in Berlin. Finally, in the case of Newark, an U.S. city where work disappeared with the transnationalization of industrial production, the theme of racial neoliberal subject formation informs the analysis of the documentary representation of a young woman's work as a community activist. Interrogating concepts of urbanity, representation, and affect, this research also identifies limitations of recent accounts of affective theories, methodologies and politics, arguing that while taking the affective turn in humanities and social science, researchers should continue to supplement their readings, viewing, and theorizations with contextualized examinations of informed by political economy and inquiries into the meaning making practices of situated subjects.