Assistant Teaching Professor in SIAS, Alex Miller, talks to the Ledger about his passion and commitment to Gender and Labor studies.

The Ledger had the privilege to speak to Assistant Teaching Professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, Alex Miller, about why he decided to take on gender and labor studies in the first place. 

“I arrived at gender and labor studies through literature,” Miller said. “I was really interested in masculinity and seeing how authors translated the experience of downward mobility into their fiction.”

Miller’s interest in gender studies may have sprung from literature, but he has since continued past that singular focus. He now looks at gender studies in a variety of ways to determine the way gender has continued to shape our society.

“My focus within gender studies is the representation of contemporary masculinities, particularly how conversations about masculinity have evolved alongside larger transformations within the American economy,” he said.

However, his interest in gender and labor studies wasn’t what brought him to UW Tacoma. His affinity for Tacoma and falling love with now fellow professor, Danica Miller, is what brought him here. Since then, he’s become a prominent figure to many students on campus and amongst the Tacoma community for his method of teaching. 

“Many of the courses I teach deal with the lived experiences of my students, so I invite folx to consider themselves and their experiences in relation to our course topics. Students should expect to be challenged, but they should also expect to be supported along the way,” he said. 

His preferred style of teaching consists of a balance between lecture and discussion for his students. And while he thrives in that environment, like most other professors, he was faced with obstacles having to figure out how to adapt and teach in an online space due to COVID.

Even with these obstacles and setbacks, Miller still continues to take on projects. Most recently, he has been working on the Labor Solidarity Project. It’s a project that centers itself around labor by providing speakers, research programs and curriculum to add further understanding of Tacoma’s working class history. 

“We’ve hosted over 20 events over the last year and a half, attracting speakers from across the country covering topics from sex work to big tech monopolies,” he said. “In addition to these public-facing events, we have funded a number of exciting scholarly projects focused on labor in the South Sound.”

These events and projects serve to realign the focus toward workers who have suffered from systemic oppression in the workforce. Labor studies serve to unearth the voices of silenced workers who have a long history of being cast aside. This is what drives him to work on labor studies. 

“The study of labor is the story of workers and the systemic silencing of our histories. Labor Studies works to recover that history and recenter the experiences of folx who have traditionally been silenced, emphasizing the radical potential of solidarity,” Miller said. 

Aside from this project, Miller has other goals lined up for the future. Hoping to begin this summer, Miller stated he looks forward to pursuing a book project centered around hip hop and masculinity. 

“I’m very interested in looking into how middle-aged men have employed hip hop as they have aged to make sense of their experiences. It’s all pretty rough, but I’m very excited about getting to work,” he said. 

For students interested in the career path he’s taken, Miller recommends sending him an email. He enjoys helping students get into this work. 

About Alex Miller:
“I once finished third on Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? (out of three contestants)…super embarrassing,” Miller said.

When he’s not busy with work his hobbies include spending time with his family, fishing, snowboarding and board gaming. Besides being a professor at UWT, he’s also a dad, husband and friend. 

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