Gabriel Winant talks with Kim about the decline of the industrial working class and the rise of the health care industry.

Gabriel is an assistant professor of History at the University of Chicago. His book, The Next Shift: The Fall of Industry and the Rise of Health Care in Rust Belt America, is recently out from Harvard University Press. You can read his recent article on the subject in The New York Times.

The Next Shift focuses on the working class in the American context and Pittsburgh in particular. In the full version of our conversation, Gabriel recommended Aaron Benanav’s book Automation and the Future of Work (Verso 2020), for an argument about the larger global economic structures of deindustrialization. He also talks a bit about James Boggs, as someone who was well positioned to notice the effects of deindustrialization. We found this article about Boggs worth reading.

The image for this episode is a photograph of the abandoned Detroit Public Schools Book Depository, taken by Thomas Hawk on 13 June 2010. The image is posted of Flickr under a creative commons attribution non-commercial license. Lauren Berlant describes gives this photograph as a bad image of neoliberalism, which allows our social theory to derive “its urgency and its reparative imaginary from spaces of catastrophe and risk where the exemplum represents structural failure” (“The Commons: Infrastructures for Troubling Times” Society and Space 34 no. 3 (2016) p.395). But I like it. Saronik modified the original image.

Music used in promotional material: ‘Shadow of a Coal Mine’ by Linda Draper

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Recall This Book Crossover

This is our first crossover episode! Saronik and Kim talk to John Plotz from the wonderful Recall This Book podcast.

Our conversation is rather wide ranging, but we focus on podcasting and the pastoral. Take a look at their page for show notes and transcripts.

Some of the books we discuss include Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule, by M.K. Gandhi; Herland, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman; Angel Island by Inez Haynes Gillmore. Our recallable books are Mark Matthew’s Droppers, John Ruskin’s Unto This Last; and Thomas Hardy’s Return of the Native.

Recall this Book is hosted by John Plotz and Elizabeth Ferry. Elizabeth Ferry (who wasn’t able to join us for this crossover episode) is a professor of Anthropology at Brandeis University. John Plotz is a professor of English at Brandeis and a proficient podcaster. He’s just launched a new podcast called Novel Dialogue with Aarthi Vadde at Duke University. Check it out!

This week’s image is the Recall This Book podcast logo.

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Commodity Fetishism

Kim talks with Elaine Freedgood about Karl Marx’s concept of commodity fetishism.

The concept comes from:
Karl Marx, Capital Vol. 1, translated by Samuel Moore and Edward Aveling, edited by Frederick Engels, 1887, available on

Other texts mentioned:
Peter Stallybrass, “Marx’s Coat” in Border Fetishisms: Material Objects in Unstable Spaces, edited by Patricia Spyer, Routledge, 1998.
Rosalind Morris and Daniel Leonard, The Returns of Fetishism: Charles de Brosses and the Afterlives of an Idea. University of Chicago Press, 2017.
In the longer version of our conversation we talked about:
Tamara Ketabgian, The Lives of Machines: The Industrial Imaginary in Victorian Literature and Culture. University of Michigan Press, 2011.
Frederick Engels, The Condition of the Working-Class in England in 1844. Translated by Florence Kelley Wischnewetzky. London: George Allen and Unwin Ltd., 1852. Internet Archive.
And Elaine’s book, The Ideas in Things: Fugitive Meaning in the Victorian Novel. University of Chicago Press, 2006.

Elaine is super cool. She studies Victorian Literature and teaches in the English Department at NYU.

Image borrowed from If this image is under copyright, please inform us and we will remove it promptly.

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Huzaifa Omair Siddiqi talks about the idea of debt, mainly with respect to the book by David Graeber on its history. This episode is dedicated to his memory.

Huzaifa is a doctoral candidate at the Department of English, Jawaharlal Nehru University, working on speculative materialism. He has written on several subjects including Graeber’s work.

The image is that of the Cone of Urukagina, which has the first recorded instance of the word ‘freedom’ (‘amargi’). In his book, Graeber talks about this record as one of several issued periodically by Sumerian kings to “declare all outstanding consumer debt null and void…, return all land to its original owners, and allow all debt-peons to return to their families”.

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