The Production of Difference (2012)

chinese-railroad-workersLa International Labor History Association (ILHA) incorona libro dell’anno The Production of Difference. Race and Management of Labor in U.S. History, di David R. Roediger ed Elizabeth D. Esch, Oxford University Press 2012, 320 pagg. Nell’arco del secolo 1830-1930 gli autori saldano la storia dei successi dell’industrializzazione e dell’efficienza con quella del triangolo razza – movimenti migratori – impero: il centro diventa quello che chiamano «race management». Nel 1907 John R. Commons disse che negli Stati Uniti l’unica originalità del management, l’unico «sintomo di originalità», era la strategia di «giocare una razza contro l’altra». Il libro prende in esame l’ampia letteratura manageriale dell’epoca, con particolare attenzione all’ipersfruttamento del lavoro nella costruzione della Transcontinental Railroad, soprattutto degli immigrati irlandesi e cinesi.

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La comunicazione dell’ISHA:

The International Labor History Association (ILHA) is pleased to announce the ILHA Book of the Year Award for 2012. The volume, The Production of Difference, published by Oxford University Press (2012), is by David R. Roediger and Elizabeth D. Esch. Covering the period 1830-1930 while offering a series of case studies, the book examines race management, with a transnational trajectory. Roediger and Esch locate a key fulcrum implemented by U.S. managers of labor, including slave owners, to enhance profits and undermine labor solidarity at home and abroad. The authors investigate the early use of race management during pre-Civil War years, later tracing related developments in the post-Civil War years with special attention paid to anti-Chinese initiatives, railroad practices mining and meatpacking, domestic and agricultural labor. Furthermore, the authors analyze the issue of race management in the pre-World War I years and its transnational variations in the Philippines, South Africa, and its transnational variations in the Philippines, South Africa, and Panama. The intellectual apparatus employed to valorize racialized personnel management receives concerted attention.

Roediger and Esch document the structurally embedded character of race management within slavery and capitalism, revealing its conception, application, and ruthless intent within production sectors across temporal boundaries. Amply documented with engaging footnotes, the volume offers a superb rendering that will no doubt become a source of information and reference to labor historians and students of labor history.

The ILHA also wishes to announce an Honorable Mention Award to Hans Coppi and Stefan Heinz for their recently edited work, Der vergessene Widerstand der Arbeiter, Gewerkschaftler, Kommunisten, Sozialdemokraten, Trotzkisten, Anarchisten und Zwangsarbeiter (Dietz Verlag, Berlin, 2012). Appearing currently only in German, the book features a collection of essays on the German Resistance in World War II. The title translates roughly as The Forgotten Resistance of Workers, Unionists, Communists, Social Democrats, Trotskyists, Anarchists and Forced Laborers.
Extensively footnoted and offering new research and information, the volume edited by Coppi and Heinz on the anti-fascist Resistance in and among leftist groupings includes as well mention of Polish and French forced laborers. Dr. Hans Coppi, Jr. is the son of Hans Coppi, Sr., a German anti-fascist murdered by the Nazi regime. Dr. Stefan Heinz teaches at the Free University of Berlin. Although it lacks a subject index, the book offers a useful name index with extensive biographical summaries of Resistance figures. Readers of German labor history will find this volume essential in attaining a more complete understanding of the many labor Resistance groups during World War II.

Ronald C. Kent, ILHA Editor
Sara H. Markham, ILHA Board Member

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