Women out of Bounds: mobilizing resistance to the global enclosures in “the factory on wheels”

Fiona Jeffries
Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, B.C.
Sunday, October 1, 2017

This paper considers public transit as a site of enclosure and struggle in feminist organizing around the politics of mobility. I draw on the example of the transnational formation of the Bus Rider’s Union (BRU) that first emerged in Los Angeles and then in other cities, including Vancouver , to situate mobility struggles within urban resistances to neoliberalism. To excavate the relationship between the contemporary enclosure movement and the gendered, racialized control of proletarian mobility, I propose the BRU as demonstrative of the centrality of mobility struggles in capitalism, signified most viscerally in waves of new vagabond laws within and across national borders. The rise of the BRU signals some challenges and transformations in contemporary justice organizing across mobile, dispersed and multi-lingual constituents who don’t necessarily share fixed common spaces such as neighbourhoods or factories. I discuss the ways in which the movement’s constituency and organizing style connects with a wider re-invention of radical politics in neoliberal capitalism that extends the logic of the general strike to the politicization of everyday spaces of social struggle –in this case public transit. I argue that the BRU collapses conventional distinctions between reform/revolution, public/private and production/consumption politics.