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Matt Bakker and David Orzechowicz Awarded LERF Research Grants

Matt Bakker and David Orzechowicz were both awarded $7500 research grants from the University of California's Labor and Employment Research Fund (LERF). Matt's award will support the first phase of his dissertation research entitled "The Transnational Politics of Migration: Examining the "Remittances to Development" Agenda in North America"; David's award will lay the ground work for his dissertation work through a project on "Being the Mouse: Frontline Service Work in Disneyland".

The Labor and Employment Research Fund (LERF) is a multi-campus University of California research program devoted to studying labor and employment issues in California and the nation. It is a component of the Miguel Contreras Labor Institute and is administered by the Office of Research at the UC Office of the President. The mission of the LERF is to encourage rigorous and relevant academic research that can help address public policy problems in this area by increasing our understanding of their causes and possible solutions.

Matt’s project addresses the meaning and impact of Mexican government policies toward migration and the Mexican diaspora living in the United States. The project draw upon a transnational multi-sited ethnographic approach and seeks to explain 1) the forces at work in constructing and giving content to contemporary policy models that attempt to link migration to development as a means to reducing future U.S.-bound migration flows and 2) the manner in which such policies are being received on the ground by the residents of Mexico’s migrant-sending regions who are the ultimate targets of the policy discourse.

David’s project uses observation and interviews with people who work as live characters at Disneyland. His central question is, why do people seek out these jobs and comply with the many organizational demands on their internal and external labor, when they are paid little and have no career prospects in the field; and how do they go about accomplishing this work? This research will eventually be extended into a comparative study on the cultures of performance that characterize these frontline service workers and stage actors.

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