LEGS, or "Law-Engaged Graduate Students," meets during the academic year to discuss a work in progress by one of our Graduate Associates. Academic papers, dissertation proposals, and dissertation chapters have been presented at these meetings, to an audience of fellow graduate students.
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Precis: "In September of 2016 Uber began operations in the city of Cancun, the only major urban center in Mexico without ride sharing services. The move proved controversial as state officials claimed that Uber did not have permission to operate in the city and that ride sharing services were illegal under state transportation regulations. While state officials were slow to enforce the law against Uber and its drivers, the local taxi union mobilized a campaign of militant, and sometimes violent, vigilante action against Uber. This ethnographic account follows the battle between Uber and taxi drivers and explores the ways in which this struggle elaborates on the social tensions and class differences that underlie the Maya Riviera's tourism dependent economy. It is here that I trace the ways in which law was conceived and deployed both discursively, and as a matter of state action, across different social classes though in ways not immediately obvious to the various parties involved in this controversy. Rather than a fight over which side was in the legal right, both sides deployed a particular kind of 'myth making' that laid claims on Mexico's future and past and thus abstracted technical policy discussions around transportation regulation for the region."
Brandon Hunter is a third year graduate student in the Department of Anthropology. He works on topics of labor and employment across a range of social contexts, including criminal justice reform in Washington DC, as well as his dissertation topic on labor unions in tourism zones in Mexico. He is interested in the nexus between law, labor markets, and labor mobilization, particularly in the ways these issues are unfolding as economies move from productive to non-productive labor.