Vinel Jean-Christian

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Research themes

  • Labor history
  • Political History
  • History of Conservartism in America

Current Project

  • My new book in progress, « Reaction At Work: The Right, Labor, and the Making of the New Gilded Age, 1935-2008), argues that the time is ripe for a new interpretation of the history of American labor. Over the last few years, increasing economic disparities and the rising clamor of economic populism in the Midwest have alerted progressives and liberals to the political consequences of the withering of labor unions, leading to a reappraisal of their role in shaping public policy. Paradoxically, however, there is no book tracing the long decline of labor unions and connecting it to the larger pattern of American political history. A fresh history of American labor, Reaction At Work fills this gap by putting the anti-union movement from the Gilded Age onward at the center of the narrative. Wide in scope and particularly attentive to transnational dynamics, The Reaction illuminates the intellectual, cultural, racial as well as political mechanisms that led to the victory of the anti-union movement in the private sector.
  • I’m also currently coordinating a collective project entitled [1] Clarisse Berthezène and Romain Huret. In 2015, two economists Anne Case (Princeton University) and Angus Deaton (Princeton University) published a widely discussed paper documenting an alarming trend –the declining life expectancy of middle-aged white Americans Case and Deaton, 2015). Through a statistical approach, they revealed that rising rates of suicide, drug use, alcoholism —along with unequal and inadequate medical care— were the main elements accounting for this inordinate turn in the history of life expectancy. These “deaths of despair”, as Case and Deaton dubbed them, represent today one of the most disturbing factors in the crisis of American democracy. Are these deaths of despair a warning sign for Europe? Case and Deaton insisted that the trend they revealed was a purely American one –a point they reiterated in a subsequent paper published in 2017 –and used statistical data from Germany, France, Sweden, to prove that there was a significant gap between the white working classes in the United States and Europe (Case and Deaton, 2017). By and large, the discussion of their thesis had been premised on an acceptance of the Atlantic divide. Americans scholars have focused on the racial gap they emphasize and Europeans, on the whole, have not engaged their findings. We believe, however, that this distinction needs to be investigated much further before it can be accepted. At the crossroads of social science and policy prescription, our project aims to produce a large volume of statistical data and ethnographical analysis to understand not only to what extent European societies have been protected from this crisis, but also whether differences between the American case and the European case are likely to remain significant. Doing so, we believe, may yield a more complex picture in which “deaths of despair” are less an American phenomenon, and more a global fait social whose dynamics need to be better understood if European countries wish to avoid a similar crisis.

Education and Academic Positions

  • 2004 : Thèse de Doctorat en Etudes Anglophones, Université Lumière Lyon 2. Titre “Les avatars de l’employee, itinéraire d’une catégorie juridique”
  • Depuis 2005 : Maitre de conférences à l’Université de Paris.

Administrative Responsibilities

  • Time tables
  • Member of the LARCA council.

Research Supervision

  • Thibault Reinard on Strikes in the US from the Wagner Act to Taft-Hartley
  • Rémi Bouveresse on Bernie Sanders and American Socialism
  • Léa Borenfreund on the history of representations of workers and unions in Britain and the US (both filsm and novels). Co-supervision with Clarisse Berthezène