Joshua McDermott

My primary research focuses on informal workers and labor politics in West Africa, with a focus on Sierra Leone and Liberia. I explore the connections between global value chains, geopolitics, and precarious and informal labor, while also navigating the cultural, racial, and gender dynamics of poverty and precarious work. I have spent significant time conducting research in West Africa and Mexico. As an urban scholar I am interested in the dynamics of urban inequality, identity, public space, and the built environment. My research has also focused on petty traders, labor movements, public space, and contentious politics in Mexico City and Pittsburgh.

Education & Training

  • MA, New Mexico State University, 2016
  • BA, Utah State University, 2013

Representative Publications

Publications to read as follows:

[Forthcoming] McDermott, Joshua. “Searching for the Informal Labor Movement: Theorizing Class Location and Collective Action among Informal Workers in the Global South” Under review at Review of Radical Political Economy.

McDermott, Joshua. “The Political Economy of Informal Workers: Giving Africa’s Workers Their Due.” Under review at Third World Quarterly.  
McDermott, Joshua. “The Forgotten Class: Informal Workers, Socialist Politics, and Class Consciousness in West Africa.” Under review at Review of African Political Economy.  

[Forthcoming] Duck, Waverly, Devin Q. Rutan, Joshua McDermott, Daniel McClymonds, Shayna Yogman, WeiJun Yuan. “A Food Oasis as Gentrification: A Case Study of East Liberty, Pittsburgh.” Forthcoming at Sociological Perspectives.  

McDermott, Joshua. 2019. “Towards an Icon Model of Gentrification: Global Capitalism, Policing, and the Struggle for Iconic Spaces in Mexico City.” Urban Studies 56 (16).  

McDermott, Joshua. 2019. “Who are the Workers? The Legacy of Precarious Labor in Pittsburgh’s Artistic Heritage.” Department of History of Art & Architecture. Blog/Newsletter. University of Pittsburgh.

McDermott, Joshua. 2016. “Extracting Democracy.” Jacobin Magazine. Online.

McDermott, Joshua. 2015. Book Review: The Ebola Outbreak in West Africa: Corporate Gangsters, Multinationals, and Rogue Politicians (by Chernoh Alpha M. Bah). Pambazuka Press.

Research Interests

  • Informal Labor
  • Globalization
  • Inequality
  • Development Studies
  • Urban Sociology
  • Gentrification
  • Social Movements
  • Labor Movements
  • International Political Economy
  • Political Sociology
  • Race
  • Ethnography
  • Postcolonialism
  • West Africa
  • Mexico

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