<span class="smallCaps">The Politics of Hobohemia</span>

in Citizen Hobo

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print September 2003 | ISBN: 9780226143781
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226143804 | DOI:
The Politics of Hobohemia

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  • History of the Americas


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This chapter discusses the politics of hobohemia. The same anonymity and freedom from supervision that attracted hoboes to slave market districts also drew the Wobblies, for only in the city could activists deliver their radical message to large numbers of migratories without worrying about employer interference. In addition to marking their territories through free speech fights, Wobblies also set about the quieter task of delivering basic services to their hobo clientele. Jungle life provided a particularly popular theme in Wobbly folklores of the hobo, for it was in the absence of domesticity, civilization, and workplace subordination that the Industrial Workers of the World's imagined community of masculinity flourished. Despite its inclusive intentions, however, Wobbly folklore propagated a fiction of working-class unity that discounted, and indeed erased, the gender, ethnic, and racial differences which divided the body of labor.

Keywords: Hobohemia; Wobblies; migratories; Wobbly folklore; hobo

Chapter.  12465 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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