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Domestic Workers Building Dignity and Power, Past and Present

Image by Rommy Torrico

Domestic workers are organizing on a massive scale to build economies that respect the labor of women of color. This panel of organizers and historians will discuss the goals and challenges facing the domestic workers’ movement. Panelists will explore how the rich history of domestic worker organizing can inform present-day struggles for dignity and respect, and inform the creation of alternative feminist economies that respect the labor of women of color.

About the Panelists

Linda Burnham, Senior Advisor at the National Domestic Workers Alliance has worked for decades as an activist, writer and strategist, focused on women’s rights and racial justice. She co-founded the Women of Color Resource Center, where she served as Executive Director for 18 years. Burnham has published numerous articles on African-American women, African-American politics, and feminist theory in a wide range of periodicals and anthologies. She edited and contributed to the anthology, Changing the Race: Racial Politics and the Election of Barack Obama. Her article, “No Plans to Abandon Our Freedom Dreams” was widely circulated online in the wake of the 2016 election. Her recently completed research, Living in the Shadows: Latina Domestic Workers in the Texas-Mexico Border Region, coauthored with Lisa Moore, was published in 2018 and she is currently working on a book about domestic worker organizing. Burnham’s writing and organizing are part of a lifelong inquiry into the dynamic, often perilous intersections of race, class and gender.

Jennifer Guglielmo is an associate professor of history at Smith College who has published on a range of topics, including working-class feminisms, anarchism, whiteness and the Italian diaspora. Her book, Living the Revolution: Italian Women's Resistance and Radicalism in New York City, 1880-1945 (University of North Carolina Press, 2010) received several national awards, including the Saloutos Award for best book in U.S. immigration history and the Marraro Book Prize from the American Historical Association and Society for Italian Historical Studies. For the last three years, she and Prof. Michelle Joffroy (Smith College) have worked closely with the Matahari Women Workers’ Center in Boston to assist their use of history as an organizing tool. In 2017, they secured a grant of over $1 million to expand this work into a two-year popular education initiative with the National Domestic Workers Alliance.

Monique Tú Nguyen, Executive Director of the Matahari Women Workers’ Center.

Diana Sierra Becerra (moderator) is a historian, popular educator, and organizer. Her book manuscript, tentatively titled Insurgent Butterflies: Gender and Revolution in El Salvador, documents the feminist praxis that working-class and peasant women developed within labor and armed movements during the late 20th century. As a postdoctoral fellow, she is developing the project Putting History in Domestic Workers’ Hands, a popular education initiative to empower and mobilize domestic workers on a massive scale. The project is a collaboration between Smith College academics and organizers from the National Domestic Workers Alliance. Sierra Becerra is also an organizer at the Pioneer Valley Workers Center, an organization that builds the collective power of immigrants and workers.

Event Details

Location Information: Goodell Hall is located in the central part of campus, approximately one city block from the UMass Parking Garage (1 Campus Center Way, $1.75/hr). Free parking is available in many staff parking lots after 5:00 pm. More information: bus schedulecampus map with Goodell Hall and nearby parking indicated.

Accessibility: Goodell Hall is wheelchair accessible. More information: accessible parkingcampus accessibility map.

Young People Welcome: Young people of all ages are welcome at this event and all Feinberg Series events. There will be coloring books and crayons available for children. Stipends are available to support transportation for bringing groups of young adults to the event. Contact for details.

If you need directions or additional assistance to plan your visit, or to request specific accommodations, please contact the History Department's communications assistant, Adeline Broussan, at

About the Feinberg Series

The 2018 Feinberg Series theme is Another World Is Possible: Revolutionary Visions, Past and Present. Series events and initiatives will explore the radical imaginations of intellectuals, artists, political leaders, renegade thinkers, community organizers, and everyday people who have worked to make another world possible. All events are FREE and open to the public. The Feinberg Family Distinguished Lecture Series is offered every other academic year by the Department of History at UMass Amherst and made possible thanks to the generosity of UMass history department alumnus Kenneth R. Feinberg ’67 and associates.

Visit the Feinberg Series webpage for more information about the series.

Feinberg Series Co-sponsors and Community Partners: Amherst College: Department of American Studies and Department of Anthropology and Sociology. Hampshire College: Ethics and the Common Good and Hampshire College Art Gallery. Mount Holyoke College: Department of English. Smith College: Department of History and Latin American and Latino/a Studies Program. UMass Amherst: Anthropology Department, Center for Research on Families, Civic Engagement and Service Learning, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Commonwealth Honors College, Communications Department, English Department, Fine Arts Center (keynote), Graduate School (keynote), Institute for Social Science Research, James Baldwin Lecture, established by Allen Davis '68 (keynote), Labor Center, Institute for Holocaust, Genocide and Memory Studies, Massachusetts Society of Professors, Office of Equity & Inclusion (keynote), Office of the Provost (keynote), Political Science Department, Public History Program, Prison Abolition Collective, Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies, Social Thought and Political Economy Program, Student Affairs and Campus Life (keynote), Student Government Association, University Museum of Contemporary Art, Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies Department, W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies. Community Organizations: Arise for Social Justice, All Hamptons Reads, Collaborative for Educational Services, David Ruggles Center, Great Falls Books Through Bars, Historians for Peace and Democracy, International Socialist Organization Western Mass, Massachusetts Peace Action, Northampton Committee to Stop the Wars, Out Now, Pa’lante Restorative Justice, Pioneer Valley Democratic Socialists of America, Pioneer Valley Workers Center, Racial Justice Rising, Resistance Center for Peace and Justice, Springfield No One Leaves, Western Mass Jobs with Justice, Western Mass Prison Abolition Network, and Western Mass Showing Up for Racial Justice.