People at Work: Life, Power, and Social Inclusion in the New Economy

People at Work: Life, Power, and Social Inclusion in the New Economy

People at Work: Life, Power, and Social Inclusion in the New Economy

People at Work: Life, Power, and Social Inclusion in the New Economy

Synopsis

The United States lost thousands of troops during World War I, and the government gave next-of-kin a choice about what to do with their fallen loved ones: ship them home for burial or leave them permanently in Europe, in makeshift graves that would be eventually transformed into cemeteries in France, Belgium, and England. World War I marked the first war in which the United States government and military took full responsibility for the identification, burial, and memorialization of those killed in battle, and as a result, the process of burying and remembering the dead became intensely political. The government and military attempted to create a patriotic consensus on the historical memory of World War I in which war dead were not only honored but used as a symbol to legitimize America's participation in a war not fully supported by all citizens. The saga of American soldiers killed in World War I and the efforts of the living to honor them is a neglected component of United States military history, and in this fascinating yet often macabre account, Lisa M. Budreau unpacks the politics and processes of the competing interest groups involved in the three core components of commemoration: repatriation, remembrance, and return. She also describes how relatives of the fallen made pilgrimages to French battlefields, attended largely by American Legionnaires and the Gold Star Mothers, a group formed by mothers of sons killed in World War I, which exists to this day. Throughout, and with sensitivity to issues of race and gender, Bodies of War emphasizes the inherent tensions in the politics of memorialization and explores how those interests often conflicted with the needs of veterans and relatives.

Excerpt

As I travel from my teaching job in Syracuse, New York, to my home in Boston, Massachusetts, I rub shoulders with other professionals and business travelers moving through the airport—often connected to work via cell phone and laptop. As I pass through airport security, I encounter teams of workers doing x-ray screening—usually middle-aged white workers in Syracuse, but not in Boston, where the team turned predominantly white after September 11, 2001, but since then has gradually become more ethnically mixed again. I buy food in the Syracuse airport from white women and in Boston from Asian and Caribbean immigrants, marked by their appearance and speech. Like other North Americans, I am increasingly aware that my everyday life is shaped by events and activities far removed from my workplace and home. I think of the jobs lost in factory closings since I came to Syracuse in the 1980s and of the low-wage service jobs in shopping malls that have replaced them; of the high-tech workers who lost jobs as their bubble burst; of immigrant health-care workers in long-term-care facilities; and of those in other parts of the world who make so many of my clothes or speak to me on the phone when I need help with my computer. Sitting in the airport—grading papers, waiting to get home—I hear the news on the tv monitor hanging overhead: the commentators assure us that the economy looks good. Tat's one account of things, but I know that there are many stories to tell about work and life in a world undergoing fundamental transformation.

In the accounting categories of employers and states, the people I encounter in my travels may be categorized as full- or part-time employees and their salaries or wages tallied as part of the cost of labor. They may be U.S. citizens, with all the associated rights, or part of the growing pool of immigrant labor, with or without legal permission to work. and some of their activities may be understood and accounted for as part of the nation's productivity, while other work they do falls out of that picture. Such . . .

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