Towards the Abolition of Whiteness: Essays on Race, Politics, and Working Class History

Overview

Towards the Abolition of Whiteness collects David Roediger’s recent essays, many published here for the first time, and counts the costs of whiteness in the past and present of the US. It finds those costs insupportable. At a time when prevailing liberal wisdom argues for the downplaying of race in the hope of building coalitions dedicated to economic reform, Roediger wants to open, not close, debates on the privileges and miseries associated with being white. He closely examines the way in which white identities...
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Overview

Towards the Abolition of Whiteness collects David Roediger’s recent essays, many published here for the first time, and counts the costs of whiteness in the past and present of the US. It finds those costs insupportable. At a time when prevailing liberal wisdom argues for the downplaying of race in the hope of building coalitions dedicated to economic reform, Roediger wants to open, not close, debates on the privileges and miseries associated with being white. He closely examines the way in which white identities have historically prepared white Americans to accept the oppression of others, the emptiness of their own lives, and the impossibility of change.

Whether discussing popular culture, race and ethnicity, the evolution of such American keywords as gook, boss and redneck, the strikes of 1877 or the election of 1992, Roediger pushes at the boundaries between labor history and politics, as well as those between race and class. Alive to tension within what James Baldwin called “the lie of whiteness,” Roediger explores the record of dissent from white identity, especially in the cultural realm, and encourages the search for effective political challenges to whiteness.

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Editorial Reviews

George Lipsitz
“David Roediger has emerged as the leading analyst, critic and interpreter of the role of ‘whiteness’ in US history and culture. His carefully researched and historically grounded writing shows us that white racism has been a central force in US history, and a key component of Euro-American identity, not just an aberration in an otherwise color-blind society.”
From the Publisher
“David Roediger has emerged as the leading analyst, critic and interpreter of the role of ‘whiteness’ in US history and culture. His carefully researched and historically grounded writing shows us that white racism has been a central force in US history, and a key component of Euro-American identity, not just an aberration in an otherwise color-blind society.”—George Lipsitz, University of California, San Diego
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780860916581
  • Publisher: Verso Books
  • Publication date: 3/17/1994
  • Series: Haymarket Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 218
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

David Roediger is Kendrick Babcock Chair of History at the University of Illinois. Among his books are Our Own Time: A History of American Labor and the Working Day (with Philip S. Foner), How Race Survived US History: From Settlement and Slavery to the Obama Phenomenon, and The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class. He is the editor of Fellow Worker: The Life of Fred Thompson, The North and Slavery and Black on White: Black Writers on What It Means to Be White as well as a new edition of Covington Hall’s Labor Struggles in the Deep South. His articles have appeared in New Left Review, Against the Current, Radical History Review, History Workshop Journal, The Progressive and Tennis.
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Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction: From the Social Construction of Race to the Abolition of Whiteness 1
Pt. I The New Labor History and Race 19
1 'Labor in White Skin': Race and Working Class History 21
2 The Greatness of Herbert Gutman 39
3 Precapitalism in One Confederacy: A Note on Genovese, Politics and the Slave South 47
4 Where Communism Was Black 55
5 Notes on Working Class Racism 61
6 The Crisis in Labor History: Race, Gender and the Replotting of the Working Class Past in the United States 69
Pt. II Studies in Whiteness and the Replotting of US History 83
7 'The So-Called Mob': Race, Class, Skill and Community in the St Louis General Strike 85
8 Gook: The Short History of an Americanism 117
9 The Racial Crisis of American Liberalism 121
10 Gaining a Hearing for Black-White Unity: Covington Hall and the Complexities of Race, Gender and Class 127
11 Whiteness and Ethnicity in the History of 'White Ethnics' in the United States 181
Index 199
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