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2018 Chautauqua Season

CLSC: Jessica Bruder

Aug 2, 2018 3:00pm ‐ Aug 2, 2018 4:00pm



From the beet fields of North Dakota to the National Forest campgrounds of California to Amazon’s CamperForce program in Texas, employers have discovered a new, low-cost labor pool, made up largely of transient older Americans. These invisible casualties of the Great Recession have taken to the road by the tens of thousands in late-model RVs, travel trailers, and vans, forming a growing community of nomads: migrant laborers who call themselves “workampers."

In a secondhand vehicle she christens “Van Halen,” Bruder hits the road to get to know her subjects more intimately, telling a compelling, eye-opening tale of the dark underbelly of the American economy—one that foreshadows the precarious future that may await many more of us. At the same time, she celebrates the exceptional resilience and creativity of these quintessential Americans who have given up ordinary rootedness to survive.

Jessica Bruder is an award-winning journalist whose work focuses on subcultures and the dark corners of the economy. Her work on Nomadland spanned three years and more than 15,000 miles of driving—from coast to coast and from Mexico to the Canadian border. She has written for Harper’s Magazine, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, WIRED, and The Guardian. Bruder teaches at the Columbia School of Journalism.


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