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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 20, 2006

Obermann Center To Host Cmiel Collaborative Semester On Human Labor

The University of Iowa Obermann Center Cmiel Collaborative Semester, "Global Perspectives on Under-regulated Labor" will meet during the fall 2007 semester and is currently seeking applicants.

This interdisciplinary semester will bring together UI researchers to reflect on and study issues surrounding the global labor market for under-regulated and undocumented workers from a variety of perspectives. Co-directed by Jennifer Glass and Kevin Leicht, both professors of sociology in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and co-directors of the Iowa Institute for Inequality Studies, the collaborative semester is open to scholars who bring U.S.-based, international, or comparative perspectives on issues of representation, rhetoric, artistry, health, demography, law, economics, geopolitics, socio-cultural adaptation, and institutional change.

Guidelines are available at The deadline for application is Nov. 15, 2006.

The seminar seeks to add to the small but growing body of research on under-regulated and undocumented labor. "At the same time that there is a greater emphasis on the plight of these workers, our understanding of undocumented and unregulated labor is becoming more complex as most developed economies come to rely on such labor and researchers scrutinize our dependence on domestic and care-related work, much of which is uncompensated," Leicht said.

Participants will pursue an individual project while also exchanging ideas on approaches to the study of undocumented labor. The goal is to advance important scholarly and creative work as participants strengthen their projects through the exchange of ideas, resources, and work-in-progress in the context of weekly seminar discussions.

Formerly known as the Interdisciplinary Research Semester, the Cmiel Collaborative Semester was recently renamed to honor the late Ken Cmiel, an Obermann Scholar and UI professor of history and American studies.

"These semesters have proven to be very successful in bringing together faculty from disparate fields, in addition to producing publications, grants, and public programming," says Jay Semel, director of the Obermann Center. Members of the 2005 Semester, "Articulating the Animal," continue to meet and are currently responsible for three art exhibits, a film proseminar, and several visiting guest lecturers.

Funding is provided by the Office of the Vice President for Research, the Office of the Provost, and the C. Esco and Avalon L. Obermann Fund. The mission of the Obermann Center is to provide an environment and resources conducive to reflection and writing and to the exchange of ideas. Scholars from a broad range of disciplines and institutions interact with one another and with the public to create and disseminate new knowledge and to establish a diverse and vibrant intellectual community.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Mary Geraghty Kenyon, 319-384-0011,; Program: Jennifer New, 319-335-4360,; Writer: Jennifer New