This seminar explores labor history in relation to black people, spanning the colonial period to the early twenty-first century. It racializes the history of work by tracing the long story of black labor in the U.S. from the plantation to the plant. Whereas the bulk of the course will analyze black labor and labor movements in the twentieth century, specifically focusing on the push for economic inclusion and mobility amid employment, societal and union-related racial discrimination, we will examine what involuntary black labor meant in the context of slavery and the construction of a capitalist economy. Likewise, we will devote attention to black workers with regard to such topics as antiunionism, deindustrialization, economic inequality, Fordism, informal economies, Jim and Jane Crow, labor radicalism and violence, New Deal and welfare, the rise of civil rights unionism, and slavery and capitalism, among other themes.
Grading: no pass/fail option,
no fifth course option
Students are expected to participate actively and will write two comparative essays (5-7 pages) and two primary source analyses (1-2 pages), all of which will be letter-graded and returned with comments. In addition, students will write a final research paper (10-12 pages) in consultation with the instructor and will be required to submit a topic proposal and outline, an annotated bibliography, and a peer-reviewed draft of the final paper.
recommended for students with sophomore standing or above
HIST and AFR majors
Difference, Power, and Equity
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
This course racializes the study of labor history, focusing on black people and their experiences in the United States from the plantation to the plant. It challenges students to confront and to redefine what it means to labor, grasping how slavery, segregation, and systemic inequalities amid black people's pursuit of citizenship, equality, and freedom have shaped their economic, political, and social conditions and identities.
HIST Group F Electives - U.S. + Canada