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The University of North Carolina Press
Making a Living: Work and Environment in the United States / Edition 1

Making a Living: Work and Environment in the United States / Edition 1

by Chad Montrie


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Making a Living: Work and Environment in the United States / Edition 1

In an innovative fusion of labor and environmental history, Making a Living examines work as a central part of Americans' evolving relationship with nature, revealing the unexpected connections between the fight for workers' rights and the rise of the modern environmental movement.

Chad Montrie offers six case studies: textile "mill girls" in antebellum New England, plantation slaves and newly freed sharecroppers in the Mississippi Delta, homesteading women in the Kansas and Nebraska grasslands, native-born coal miners in southern Appalachia, autoworkers in Detroit, and Mexican and Mexican American farm workers in southern California. Montrie shows how increasingly organized and mechanized production drove a wedge between workers and nature—and how workers fought back. Workers' resistance not only addressed wages and conditions, he argues, but also planted the seeds of environmental reform and environmental justice activism. Workers played a critical role in raising popular consciousness, pioneering strategies for enacting environmental regulatory policy, and initiating militant local protest.

Filled with poignant and illuminating vignettes, Making a Living provides new insights into the intersection of the labor movement and environmentalism in America.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807858783
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 05/05/2008
Edition description: 1
Pages: 192
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Chad Montrie is assistant professor of history at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and author of To Save the Land and People: A History of Opposition to Surface Coal Mining in Appalachia (from the University of North Carolina Press).

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     ix
Introduction     1
I Think Less of the Factory Than of My Native Dell: Labor, Nature, and the Lowell Mill Girls     13
Living by Themselves: Slaves' and Freedmen's Hunting, Fishing, and Gardening in the Mississippi Delta     35
Men Alone Cannot Settle a Country: Domesticating Nature in the Kansas-Nebraska Grasslands     53
Degrees of Separation: Nature and the Shift from Farmer to Miner to Factory Hand in Southern West Virginia     71
A Decent, Wholesome Living Environment for Everyone: Michigan Autoworkers and the Origins of Modern Environmentalism     91
A Landscape Foreign and Physically Threatening: Southern California Farmworkers, Pesticides, and Environmental Justice     113
Conclusion     129
Notes     133
Bibliography     159
Index     173

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

By illuminating the entanglement of past labor and environmental struggles, [Montrie] not only successfully challenges disciplinary boundaries but also shows that there are important precedents for contemporary efforts to unite labor and environmental activism.—Journal of American History

Montrie's blending of environmental history, labor history, and the history of social movements is impressive and makes real contributions to all fields. His writing style is admirable in its clarity, creating an effective presentation of his case studies. These essays will inspire research for some time to come.—Lu Ann Jones, University of South Florida Mama Learned Us to Work: Farm Women in the New South

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