Anne Balay graduated with a PhD from the University of Chicago, after which she promptly became a car mechanic. Though in subsequent years she returned to academia as a professor both at the University of Illinois and Indiana University Northwest, she never lost her interest in blue collar work environments. Dr. Balay moved to Gary, Indiana to teach, and was immidiately interested in the steel industry of the region. Her coworker and mentor, Jimbo Lane, suggested that she would be perfectly suited to meeting with and writing about the LGBT workers within the mill community, and Steel Closets was born. Anne then attended commercial truck driving school, got her CDL, and drove over the road. Oral histories of truck drivers she did in 2015/16 have led to her new book Semi Queer. Anne is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor at Haverford College.
Talk: "Hammer Down: The Network of Regulations that Shape Trucking"
Abstract: Balay's talk considers how technology and sexuality shape the lives of workers through an extended case study of gay, trans, and black truck drivers. Many find joy and freedom in trucking, and a chance to be themselves and do meaningful, fulfilling work. For marginalized people particularly, the constant motion of the work and the time is provides for reflection enables a freedom that they value. However, surveillance technologies and burgeoning regulatory structures radically limit those freedoms. How truckers navigate this complex web of rebellion, micromanagement, motion, and legislation is the focus of this talk.