The Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center recently awarded professors Richard Appelbaum and Nelson Lichtenstein a space in the prestigious Bellagio Residency Fellows program in Italy, where they will write a book together on workers’ rights in a global economy.
Both professors specialize in areas of research focusing on labor rights and their role in globalization and the worldwide economy, with Appelbaum as a professor of sociology and global studies while Lichtenstein is a professor of history. The program unites scholars from a wide range of disciplines and nationalities at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center in Northern Italy, where they perform research fully funded by the Center. The residency — which has hosted Pulitzer Prize winners, Nobel laureates, MacArthur fellows and major heads of state, among others — runs from the end of August until the end of September.
Appelbaum and Lichtenstein first worked with the Bellagio Center last July, when they hosted a three-day workshop at the Center discussing labor rights. The event brought together representatives from corporations like Nike and H&M, scholars from the Worker Rights Consortium, international labor governance bodies like the International Labor Organization and other global groups to set policymaking standards for workers’ rights. According to Appelbaum, his residency at the Bellagio Center will build off the work done at the workshop.
“This builds on a lot of past work and the purpose of this residency is to sit down in relative isolation and work all day, every day on getting as much done on this book as we can,” Appelbaum said.
Appelbaum said both he and Lichtenstein have a great deal of experience in the field of workers’ rights and have done a considerable amount of previous work on the topic.
“We’ve both been involved in workers’ rights for many years,” Appelbaum said.
According to Appelbaum, he has spent about 25 years researching this topic, while Nelson has spent his entire career doing so.
Some of Appelbaum’s experience in the field of workers’ rights came from a book he wrote together with UC Riverside sociology and ethnic studies professor Edna Bonacich, titled Behind the Label, which examined the Los Angeles garment industry and was published by the University of California Press in 2000.
Appelbaum also emphasized the competitive nature of the residency and his pleasant surprise at having his and Lichtenstein’s project accepted. According to Appelbaum, the success of their Bellagio Center workshop on the same topic played a role in their acceptance.
“People from all over the world apply for these things and there’s a committee that looks at your application and accepts it or doesn’t … They support you, they give you all of the facilities you need,” Appelbaum said. “I was quite stoked.”


A version of this story appeared on page 3 of Wednesday, May 21, 2014’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.