Chapter

What If Labor Were Not White and Male?

David R. Roediger

in Colored White

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2002 | ISBN: 9780520233416
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520930803 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520233416.003.0011
What If Labor Were Not White and Male?

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This chapter argues that the face of organized labor is changing and is likely to open fresh avenues of inquiry into the past. It also broadly describes how recent work in labor history has begun to respond to changes in the composition of the working class and of organized labor. Next, it addresses how one specific debate—that over the record of organized labor in combating racism—might be transformed as historians write for a changed labor audience and react to the fact that the coding of labor as white and male cannot be sustained. A concrete example of how historical debate can productively be shifted is presented: the policies of the National Labor Union and other working-class organizations following the Civil War. The important recent work on gender and labor after the Civil War greatly complicates Du Bois' account.

Keywords: organized labor; working class; racism; white; male; National Labor Union; Civil War; Du Bois

Chapter.  10233 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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