Hinterland Fix: Logistics Chains, Spatial Divisions of Labour, and Worker Power at Walmart

March 5, 2024 | 4:00PM - 5:30PM
Centre for the Study of the United States, Human rights & justice, Migration & borders, North America

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'Munk Centre For International Studies - 1 Devonshire Place
This Graduate Student Workshop presentation by Yi Wang is based on doctoral research investigating socio-spatial divisions of labour and working class formation within the retail logistics operations of Walmart, the biggest private sector employer and retail company in the United States and in the world. The research explores key contradictions in Walmart’s retail logistics operations, in workers’ discourse, and in labor movement strategies with a focus on the Western US. The research examines different forms of worker power in the context of centrally coordinated supply chains, fragmented workforces, and geographically uneven development at the regional scale. The research highlights the significance of logistical chokepoints positioned in peripheral hinterland zones in terms of labour organizing prospects as well as national politics. The presentation shares findings from ethnographic fieldwork conducted at multiple sites within Walmart’s retail distribution network, including participant observation as an hourly Walmart Associate and interviews with workers and labour organizers.
Yi Wang is a PhD candidate in Human Geography at the University of Toronto and currently resides in Northern California. His research interests include the political economy of retail and logistics, spatial and racial divisions of labour, social movements, and class struggle. He has contributed to various action-research projects in connection with food sovereignty and labour movement organizations.
Centre for the Study of the United States, Human rights & justice, Migration & borders, North America
Sophie Bourret-Klein


Wang_ headshot
Yi Wang

PhD candidate, Human Geography, University of Toronto