Beyond Essential Workers, Toward Globalized Mortals in and beyond the Ethnic Studies Classroom during the Early Months of the COVID-19 Pandemic


  • Mario Alberto Obando



Examining the wisdom and knowledge acquired in the early months of the global pandemic from conversations with and projects by students of color who were also deemed essential labor, this essay argues for a relational ethnic studies that is holistic and centers itself on the idea of the human as not just a source of labor, be it in academia or in industry, but as mortal. Mortality then critiques the logics of essential labor, financial solvency, and risk management discourse and positions a move toward more horizontal and global meditations on the experiences of people who are rendered essentialized labor.