Director, Center for Work and Democracy
Associate Professor, School of Social Transformation
Arizona State University
photo: the "office", Golibar, Mumbai
by Cassim Shepard
2022. W/Nuno F. da Cruz, et al. "Networked Urban Governance: A Socio-structural analysis of transport strategies in London and New York." Urban Affairs Review, 1-42.
2022. W/ Benjamin Case. Majority Rules: The Battle for Ballot Initiatives, Center for Work and Democracy research report.
2022. W/Benjamin Case. "Ballot initiatives are the hidden voting rights issue in this election cycle." Jacobin, October 28, 2022.
I am a sociologist at Arizona State University where I direct the Center for Work and Democracy. I am also an Associate Professor in the School of Social Transformation. The main purpose of my work at the Center for Work and Democracy is to address the exclusion of working people from the polity and the marginalization of their voices in their communities and workplaces. In particular, the Center is concerned with the institutional, organizational, and political dimensions of marginalization and emancipation.
My own research concerns are protest and politics, governance, organizations, civil society, and political culture. I am undergoing an ethnography of George Floyd Square, the autonomous zone at the site where George Floyd was murdered on May, 25, 2020. Other projects include: place and politics, urban governance, social movement repertoires, and the politicization of care. I teach classes on populism and right-wing authoritarianism, social movements, social change organizations, and care and social solidarity. I research and write on a range of topics and have bylines in non-academic outlets like Washington Post, Scroll.in, Jacobin, New Politics, Public Books, OpenDemocracy, and Shelterforce.
Prior to arriving at Arizona State, I taught at the London School of Economics and Political Science, University of California, Davis, and New York University. Before earning my Ph.D in Sociology at NYU, I worked as a labor organizer in West Virginia, Ohio, and New York, and I worked as a community organizer in the South Bronx. New York City is always home.
The Free State of George Floyd
The Free State of George Floyd is a short documentary about the year-long protest occupation that emerged from the May 2020 Uprising at 38th St. and Chicago Ave., on the Southside of Minneapolis. The film is the product of a collaboration between the community at 38th St. and Chicago, Flowstate Films, and the Center for Work and Democracy, which I direct. The purpose was to tell the story of the protest occupation from the perspective of participants, which was especially important at the time because what coverage of the protest there was tended to reflect the views of the City of Minneapolis or the Minneapolis Police Department (it has since been revealed the City of Minneapolis contracted with people to shape public perception of the protest). The film relies exclusively on video shot on the cell phones of participants or from video shot by people active in the George Floyd Square. The collected footage was edited and organized into a film by Flowstate Films, a documentary film company. Different drafts were discussed with community members and the people who are visible in the film itself.
I discuss the film here:
The People vs. America
The People vs. America is an award-winning two-part documentary produced and aired by Al Jazeera English. It is a deep-dive into the roots of Donald Trump’s victory, and the emergence of an authoritarian populist right-wing in the United States. I provided background expertise and on-screen commentary to the project.