Guide to the Karen Brodkin papers, 1960-2010

John Hay Library, University Archives and Manuscripts
Box A
Brown University
Providence, RI 02912
Telephone: Manuscripts: 401-863-3723; University Archives: 401-863-2148
Email: Manuscripts:; University Archives:

Published in 2015

Collection Overview

Title: Karen Brodkin papers
Date range: 1960-2010
Creator: Brodkin, Karen
Abstract: The Karen Brodkin Papers consist of writings, photographs, audio and visual materials, correspondence, and ephemera from 1960-2010. The materials in the collection relate to her research and work in the field of Anthropology.
Language of materials: English
Repository: John Hay Library, University Archives and Manuscripts
Collection number: Ms.2010.007

Scope & content

The Karen Brodkin papers contain materials related to and including Brodkin’s writings, talks, trips to Cuba, professional organizations, and conferences. Brodkin’s materials are arragned according to her own organizational scheme. The “Writings” subseries contains Brodkin’s articles and book reviews written of other authors’ works, along with articles reviewing or citing her works. The “Talks” subseries includes physical copies of talks she presented throughout her career. Within these two subseries are some audio and video recordings and discs of her talks and her research. The “Travel to Cuba” subseries includes newspaper clippings, stamps, notebooks, documents relating to her lost passport case, and a disc of pictures from her two trips to Cuba. The “Professional Organizations and Conferences” subseries includes programs and newsletters for specific organizations and conferences, including. The “Non-Teaching Faculty Activity” subseries includes papers relating to various events Brodkin participated in while Brodkin a faculty member at various institutions. The “Miscellaneous” subseries contains a booklet of WAC Stats and information about a Guess? Workers controversy.


The collection is divided into the following series: Series 1. Accession from 2010
  • Subseries 1. Writings
  • Subseries 2. Talks
  • Subseries 3. Travel to Cuba
  • Subseries 4. Professional Organizations and Conferences
  • Subseries 5. Non-Teaching Faculty Activity
  • Subseries 6. Miscellaneous.
Series 2. Accession from 2015

Biographical note

Karen Brodkin is a prominent figure in the field of Anthropology. Her research focuses on gender studies and race studies, primarily dealing with Jewish issues. Brodkin received her A.B. from Brandeis University in 1963, her M.A. from Harvard University in 1964, and her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1971. Her dissertation was titled “Economic Bases of Sexual Equality: A Comparative Study of Four African Societies.” She held Assistant Professor positions at several universities from 1967-1980 and spent seven years at Oakland University during that time. After holding various other faculty positions, Brodkin served for six years as the Director of Women’s Studies at UCLA beginning in 1987. In 1989, she became Professor of Anthropology and Women’s Studies at UCLA, and is currently Professor Emerita.

Brodkin has received several fellowships, honors, and grants in her scholarly career, including an Honorable Mention for the Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Award for How Jews Became White Folks and What That Says About Race in America (Rutgers University Press, 1998) and the Conrad Arensberg Award from the Society for the Anthropology of Work for Caring by the Hour (University of Illinois Press, 1998). Her other awards include two National Science Foundation grants.

Brodkin’s published books are Sisters and Wives: The Past and Future of Sexual Equality (University of Illinois Press, 1982), My Troubles are Going to Have Trouble with Me (Rutgers University Press, 1984), Making Democracy Matter: Identity and Activism in Los Angeles (Rutgers University Press, 2007), and Power Politics: Environmental Activism in South Los Angeles (Rutgers University Press, 2009). She has also been published in scholarly journals including Anthropologica, American Ethnologist, and Jewish Currents, and has served on over fifteen editorial and advisory boards.

Access & Use

Access to the collection: There are no restrictions on access, except that the collection can only be seen by prior appointment. Some materials may be stored off-site and cannot be produced on the same day on which they are requested.
Use of the materials: All researchers seeking to publish materials from the collections of the John Hay Library are requested to complete a Notice of Intent to Publish, available on the John Hay Library website or by request, prior to reproducing, quoting, or otherwise publishing any portion or extract from this collection. Although Brown University has physical ownership of the collection and the materials contained therein, it does not claim literary rights. It is up to the researcher to determine the owners of the literary rights and to obtain any necessary permissions from them.
Preferred citation: Karen Brodkin papers, Ms.2010.007, Feminist Theory Archive, Brown University Library.
Contact information: John Hay Library, University Archives and Manuscripts
Box A
Brown University
Providence, RI 02912
Telephone: Manuscripts: 401-863-3723; University Archives: 401-863-2148
Email: Manuscripts:; University Archives:

Administrative Information

Acquisition: Gift of Karen Brodkin beginning in 2009.
Accruals: Further accruals for this collection are possible.
Processing information: Collection processed in 2010 by Miranda Nero, with additions processed in 2015 by Wendy Korwin.
Author: Finding aid prepared by Miranda Nero and Wendy Korwin on behalf of the Pembroke Center for the Teaching and Research on Women and the Brown University Library.
Encoding: This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit 2015-05-26
Descriptive rules: Finding aid based on Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS)
Sponsor: Curatorial work and processing provided by the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women on behalf of the Feminist Theory Archive, Brown University Library.

Additional Information

Related material: To find Karen Brodkin's published works, follow this link: Brodkin,Karen.


Series 1. Accessions from 2010, 1960-2006

Subseries 2. Writings
Box 1-2

Container Description Date
Box 1, Folder 1 Article: "Agrarian Reform in Cuba"
Box 1, Folder 2 Article: "Social Bases for Sexual Equality: A Comparative Review"
Box 1, Folder 3 Brodkin's Review of Women and the Public Interest: An Essay on Policy and Protest
Box 1, Folder 4 Article: "Engels Revisited: Women, The Organization of Production, and Private Property"
Box 1, Folder 5 Article: "Class Roots of Feminism"
1976 Feb
Box 1, Folder 6 Article: "State Bias and Women's Status"
1976 Sep
Box 1, Folder 7 Brodkin's Review of Salt of the Earth
Box 1, Folder 8 Article: "Women and Class Struggle in Sembene's God's Bits of Wood"
Box 1, Folder 9 Reviews of Brodkin's Sisters and Wives: The Past and Future of Sexual Equality
Box 1, Folder 10 Article: "Causality and Chance on the Upper Nile"
1979 Feb 11
Box 1, Folder 11 Brodkin's Review of Pseudoscience and Mental Aibility: The Origins and Fallacies of the IQ Controversy
1980 Feb
Box 1, Folder 12 Book Reviews by Brodkin: "Racist Eugenics Dissected"
1981 Feb
Box 1, Folder 13 Article: "The New 'Rassenscience': The Racism of the Jensens and Shockleys"
1978 Feb
Box 1, Folder 14 Article: "An Overview of Women & Power in Africa"
Box 1, Folder 15 Article: "Equal Pay for Work of Comparable Value"
1982 Apr
Box 1, Folder 16 Article: "Women and Work: A New Response"
Box 1, Folder 17 Article: "Then, Now & Future Women"
1983 Jul-Aug
Box 1, Folder 18 Article: "Networking: When Potluck is Political"
1983 Apr
Box 1, Folder 19 Brodkin's Review of The Goba of Zambezi: Sex Roles, Economics, and Change.
Box 1, Folder 20 Article: "Work" in The Women's Annual
Box 1, Folder 21 Article: "Women and Power Within the Historical Dynamic of Feminist Scholarship"
Box 1, Folder 22 Essay: "Part VI: Kinship and Class Consciousness" in "Interest and Emotion"
Box 1, Folder 23 Book Reviews by Brodkin: "Lab Coats and Pink Collars"
1984 Jul
Box 1, Folder 24 Report: "Women's Wages: A Key to Preserving Middle Income Jobs"
Contents Note: Includes two newspaper clippings that cite this report and correspondence regarding the report

1986 Aug
Box 1, Folder 25 Brodkin's Review of Trade, Women, Class, and Society in Ancient Western Asia
1986 Dec
Box 1, Folder 26 Introduction to Women's Studies 13(3)
Box 1, Folder 27 Working Paper: "A Two-Way Street: Gendering International Studies and Internationalizing Women's Studies"
Box 1, Folder 28 Book Reviews by Brodkin: "'Dirty Old Ladies,' Mothers, and Others: Age and Gender in Cultural and Biological Perspectives"
Box 1, Folder 29 Article: "The Origins of Women's Oppression"
Contents Note: Brodkin's Review of Women's Work, Men's Property: The Origin of Gender and Class

Box 1, Folder 30 Reviews of Brodkin's Caring By The Hour
Box 1, Folder 31 Article: "Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire: Macroeconomic Trends and Women's Life Chances"
1988 Mar
Box 1, Folder 32 Article: "The Demise of Domesticity in America"
Box 1, Folder 33 Article: "Gender and Grassroots Leadership"
Box 1, Folder 34 Article: "Toward a Unified Theory of Class, Race and Gender"
1989 Aug
Box 1, Folder 35 Article: "What's a Life Story Got to Do with It?"
Contents Note: Includes two articles that cite this article

Box 1, Folder 36 Brodkin's Review of Patriarchy and Class: African Women in the Home and the Workforce
1989 Mar
Box 1, Folder 37 Brodkin's Review of Marriage and Inequality in Classless Societies
Box 1, Folder 38 Brodkin's Review of Feminism and Anthropology
1990 May
Box 1, Folder 39 Paper: "Does It Pay to Care?"
1988 Apr
Box 1, Folder 40 Interview with Brodkin: "Everyday Women's Values"
Box 1, Folder 41 Fishing in the City
Contents Note: VHS, Cassette, and Papers from the film Fishing in the City

Box 1, Folder 42 Brodkin's Review of Michael Levin's "Black Antisemitism"
1992 Jun
Box 1, Folder 43 Introduction: New Views of Middle-Aged Women
Box 1, Folder 44 Two Book Reviews by Karen Brodkin
Box 1, Folder 45 Article: "Euro-Ethnic Working-Class Women's Community Culture"
Box 1, Folder 46 Article: "How Did Jews Become White Folks?"
Box 1, Folder 47 Article: "Anthropology, Imperialism and Resistance: The Work of Kathleen Gough"
Box 1, Folder 48 Brodkin's Review of Anthropology and the Crisis of the Intellectuals
Box 1, Folder 49 Brodkin's Review of Hear My Testimony: Maria Teresa Tula, Human Rights Activist of El Salvador
Box 1, Folder 50 Brodkin's Review of Beyond A Dream Deferred: Multicultural Education and the Politics of Excellence
1995 May
Box 1, Folder 51 Brodkin's Review of White Women, Race Matters: The Social Construction of Whiteness
1995 Feb
Box 1, Folder 52 Book: How Jews Became White Folks
Box 1, Folder 53 Reviews of How Jews Became White Folks
Box 1, Folder 54 Papers relating to How Jews Became White Folks
Box 1, Folder 55 Video: Let's Own It!
Contents Note: Includes laminated set of pictures, VHS, and invitation

1998 Oct 4
Box 1, Folder 56 Book Reviews by Brodkin: "A Better World Is Possible? Anthropology and Social Movements"
Box 2, Folder 1 Article: "Survival of the Fattest"
1978 Mar
Box 2, Folder 2 "The Struggle for Justice" and "Race, Class and Gender" in Transforming Anthropology
Box 2, Folder 3 Article: "Race, Class, and the Limits of Democratization in the Academy"
Box 2, Folder 4 Brodkin's Review of The Teeth Are Smiling: the Persistence of Racism in Multicultural Australia
1998 May
Box 2, Folder 5 Book Reviews by Karen Brodkin
Box 2, Folder 6 Article: "Women, Work, and Karl Marx"
Box 2, Folder 7 Article: "Studying Whiteness: What's the Point and Where do We go from Here?"
1999 May
Box 2, Folder 8 Article: "Once More into the Streets"
Box 2, Folder 9 Article: "Global Capitalism: What's Race Got to Do With it?"
Box 2, Folder 10 Article: "Comments on 'Discourses of Whiteness"'
2001 Jun
Box 2, Folder 11 Article: "Diversity in Anthropological Theory"
Box 2, Folder 12 Article: "Whiteness: A Mixed Bag"
Box 2, Folder 13 Article: "On the Politics of Being Jewish in a Multiracial State"
Box 2, Folder 14 Article: "The Struggle for Hearts and Minds: Organization, Ideology, and Emotion"
Box 2, Folder 15 Brodkin's Review of Upheaval in the Quite Zone: A History of Hospital Workers' Union, Local 1199
Box 2, Folder 16 Article: "Race and Gender in the Construction of Class"
Box 2, Folder 17 CD: "Karen Brodkin Files: Talks, Writing, + Misc"
Box 2, Folder 18 Proof: "Making Democracy Matter: Identity and Activism in Los Angeles"
2006 Aug
Box 2, Folder 19 Non-Academic Writing and Activity (1 of 2)
Contents Note: "Two Steps Forward, One Step Back," "Women, Technology and Health Care"

1982 Jun - 1985 Jul 10
Box 2, Folder 20 Non-Academic Writing and Activity (2 of 2)
Contents Note: "Theft of Parenting," " Work and Family Lives," "Murphy Hall goes marching in," "Let there be light!," "UCLA Executive Program"

Box 2, Folder 21 Cassettes
Contents Note: Beyond the Pale: The Progressive Jewish Radio House 11/7/99, Includes Karen Brodkin Interview, Plenary Sessions "Politics of Women's Work" 1994, Joe Domanick's Beneath the Surface, Williams/Jews 5/27/99


Subseries 2. Talks
Box 2

Container Description Date
Box 2, Folder 22 Talks Folder (1 of 2)
Contents Note: "Anthropological Research on Women in the Workplace," "Look What they Done to my Song," "The Political Economies of Kinship: The Political is Really Personal," "Network Paper," "Theft of Parenting," "MOMDIDIT," "Presentation, Women at Work Conference."

Box 2, Folder 23 Talks Folder (2 of 2)
Contents Note: "Captialism Hurting American Family," "Social Darwinism, Sociobiology and Sexism: IPS 11/9/82," "Greensboro Talk @ Equity and Excellence," "Racism and Sexism in the Groves of Academe," "What do Workers Want?," "Can We Be Scholars and Activists at the Same


Subseries 3. Travel to Cuba
Box 2

Container Description Date
Box 2, Folder 24 Brodkin's Trip to Cuba (1 of 3): Newspaper Clippings
Box 2, Folder 25 Brodkin's Trip to Cuba (2 of 3): Stamps
Box 2, Folder 26 Brodkin's Trip to Cuba (3 of 3): Notebooks
Box 2, Folder 27 Passport Case
Box 2, Folder 28 Brodkin's Trip to Cuba
Box 2, Folder 29 Cuba Photo Disc

Subseries 4. Professional Organizations and Conferences
Box 3

Container Description Date
Box 3, Folder 1 Conference on Anthropology In and About Los Angeles
Contents Note: Photographs, program, and paper abstracts

2002 Apr 5
Box 3, Folder 2 American Ethnological Society 116th Annual Spring Meeting
Contents Note: Program and abstracts

1994 Apr 14-16
Box 3, Folder 3 ARPA Newsletters
Box 3, Folder 4 ARPA and Radical Anthropology
Box 3, Folder 5 Rebellion
Contents Note: Newsletters and other papers


Subseries 5. Non-Teaching Faculty Activity
Box 3

Container Description Date
Box 3, Folder 6 Miscellaneous Correspondence
Box 3, Folder 7 Chain Letter & Faculty Organizing
Box 3, Folder 8 Faculty for Affirmative Action/ Amicus Brief
Box 3, Folder 9 Luckman Teaching Award Nomination
Box 3, Folder 10 Funded NSF Grants/ Applications
1984, 1990
Box 3, Folder 11 Oakland University Sex Discrimination Suit and Reappointment Fight

Subseries 6. Miscellaneous
Box 3

Container Description Date
Box 3, Folder 12 Common Threads
Contents Note: Information regarding Guess? Workers Controversy

Box 3, Folder 13 WAC Stats
Box 3, Folder 14 Brodkin's CV

Series 2. Accessions from 2015, 1964-2010

Container Description Date
Box 3, Folder 15 50-Mile Walk Completed with Carol Jacklin
Box 3, Folder 16 Boston C.O.R.E. Reunion
Box 3, Folder 17 CD of Photographs, Writings, and Course Materials