Podcast: Christine Walley, “The Exit Zero Project: A Transmedia Exploration of Family and Class in Postindustrial Chicago”

The Exit Zero Project (www.exitzeroproject.org) is a transmedia exploration of the traumatic effects of the loss of the steel industry in Southeast Chicago, the impact that deindustrialization has had on expanding class inequalities in the United States more broadly, and how Americans talk – and fail to talk – about social class. The project includes an award-winning book, Exit Zero: Family and Class in Post-Industrial Chicago (University of Chicago Press, 2013) authored by Christine Walley, as well as a documentary film, entitled Exit Zero: An Industrial Family Story (2016) made in conjunction with director and filmmaker Chris Boebel. The book and film use first person narration to trace the stories of multiple generations of writer/producer Walley’s family in this once-thriving steel mill community. From the turn-of-the-century experience of immigrants who worked in Chicago’s mammoth industries to the labor struggles of the 1930s to the seemingly unfathomable closure of the steel mills in the 1980s and 90s, these family stories convey a history that serves as a microcosm of the broader national experience of deindustrialization and its economic and environmental aftermath. The project also includes an interactive documentary website with both a storytelling and archival component that is being made in collaboration with the Southeast Chicago Historical Museum. In this talk, Professor Walley will talk about her research into this topic and how it found expression in a book, website, and documentary film.

Walley received a Ph.D. in anthropology from New York University in 1999. Her first book, Rough Waters: Nature and Development in an East African Marine Park (Princeton University Press, 2004), was based on field research exploring environmental conflict in rural Tanzania. Chris Walley and Chris Boebel are also the co-creators and co-instructors of the documentary film production and theory class DV Lab: Documenting Science Through Video and New Media.

Vicky Zeamer

About Vicky Zeamer

My passions fall more in the realm of human-centered design. I have spent my previous education and work experience in the tech industry, specifically focusing on how user experience (UX) can help guide the development of technology to be better for people and society. At MIT, I earned my M.Sc. in Comparative Media Studies where I wrote my thesis on how the dining out food industry shifted in response to the proliferation of digital food culture on Web 1.0 & 2.0. I earned my B.A. at Wellesley College where I studied both how people and societies function and create culture (American Studies) and how computer science and design could be leveraged for innovation (Media Arts and Sciences). I am currently a UX Research role at HubSpot in Cambridge, a software company dedicated to helping small and medium-sized businesses grow through an online marketing and sales platform. I sit as a user-centered researcher within the Machine Learning (ML) engineering team where my main focus is to gather insights about our users and strategize how to create ML-enabled solutions for our customers. Being at the intersection of technology and people is really my sweet spot.


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