Friday, March 31, 2023
Immigration Article of the Day: Pedagogy of Prefiguration by Sameer Ashar
In honor of Cesar Chavez day
UC Irvine Law School Professor and Director of the Workers, Law, and Organizing Clinic Sameer Ashar recently published Pedagogy of Prefiguration in the Yale Law Journal Forum. The piece connects his visionary writings on social movement lawyering and clinical teaching with the vital insight that effective advocacy requires thinking that goes "outside the terms and constraints of our present late-neoliberal moment of global climate emergency and democratic crisis." Professor Ashar relays experiences from the UC Irvine Workers, Law, and Organizing Clinic that used utopian thinking to transform the social arrangements that perpetuate labor exploitation -- illegality, austerity, and domination -- for immigrant workers. The WLO supported immigrant worker collaboratives in their campaign to improve difficult working conditions that had been exacerbated by COVID-19 after a walkout led to retaliatory firings. The article reflects,
Working with UFW lawyers, the WLO clinical team researched potential claims, interviewed workers, and began informal discovery. We drafted a complaint for use in state court. In undertaking these tasks, we continued to guide the work by asking a set of questions: In the context of this type of traditional litigation case, how might a clinic advance a more critical understanding of the conditions to which “essential workers” were subject during the pandemic? How do we accentuate and elevate the worker solidarity that provoked the terminations? How might we depart from standard representation in litigation to think prefiguratively with our clients and collaborators? Toward what future might this work gesture?
Additional inspiring examples from WLO's clinical work appear in the article and in this LPE blog. Professor Ashar will elaborate on next steps in his research in a lecture for the Center for Race, Immigration, Citizenship, and Equality (RICE) on Thursday, April 6, 2023. Commentary will be provided by UC Law SF Professor Veena Dubal. Registration for the inperson/virtual hybrd lecture is here and more information can be obtained by contacting RICE Director Ming H. Chen at [email protected]