Courses

Anthropology 84, Section 1

The Woman Behind the New Deal: Frances Perkins (1 unit, P/NP) SEATS AVAILABLE

Professor Margaret Conkey
Wednesday 10:00-11:00, 221 Anthro/Art Practice Building, Class number: 23220

Have you ever wondered how something like Social Security got started? Unemployment insurance? The minimum wage? What about workers' rights? How are laborers protected today? This seminar will focus on a recent book about Frances Perkins -- the first woman in any presidential cabinet, she under FDR -- and learn how she was able to create some of the most important -- and still hotly debated -- programs of social support in US history. As an election year will unfold this Fall, with a focus on the actions of the current administration, this "ethnography" of women, power, and social change, especially in relation to American workers, will be an important insight into what needs to be done and how. Guest speakers will provide some insight into the progressive movement in New York City that spawned Perkins' motivations, and on other topics relevant to Perkins' life and work. Some particular attention with be paid to the New Deal and how it is represented in Berkeley, with a possible tour of New Deal "works" right here. Reading will be basically the paperback book (a chapter or two each week) by Kirsten Downey: "The Woman Behind the New Deal: FDR's Secretary of Labor and his Moral Conscience." Ideally, this course would be of interest to students who are engaged today with the political process, with women in politics, with how a life career is formed, and with understanding the ways in which programs and policies for the "common good" are developed and implemented (or not).

Instructor Bio

Professor Meg Conkey is an anthropologist and archaeologist who has long engaged with issues of the roles of women in history and prehistory. She has taught at Berkeley for 30+ years, and has held numerous positions in the discipline related to feminist and gender anthropology and its practice. She has a "connection" of sorts with the subject of the seminar, as they both attended (decades apart!) the same undergraduate institution (Mt Holyoke College) and share an attachment to a specific location in Maine, where Perkins had a family homestead.

Faculty web site: https://anthropology.berkeley.edu/margaret-w-conkey

Note

Ideally, these would be students who are engaged today with the political process, with the the current economic crisis, the upcoming election and its issues and with understanding the ways in which programs and policies for the "common good" are developed and implemented (or not).

This seminar is part of the following programs

150 Years of Women at Berkeley