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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Department of Geography, Environment, and Society Coffe Hour

The Department of Geography, Environment, and Society is hosting a coffee hour on Friday, October 24th at 3:30 pm in Blegen Hall 445. The talk will be given by St. Olaf professor Eric Fure-Slocum and titled "Negotiating the City: Labor and Working-Class Politics in 1940s Industrial America".

Milwaukee in the 1940s was a labor city. Unions held and exerted power. The Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) pursued an ambitious agenda, both inside and outside the city's workplaces. This talk focuses on contests over housing and leisure in order to investigate the possibilities and shortcomings, especially regarding race, of the CIO's egalitarian vision for the city. This working-class politics developed in contention with conservatism and an increasingly influential growth politics. The presentation, building on my book Contesting the Postwar City (Cambridge University Press, 2013), poses two questions. First, how did organized labor respond to workers' experiences in the industrial city when crafting a distinctive midcentury working-class political culture? Second, how did the urban perspective of this working-class political culture both foster an expansive midcentury labor movement and then limit labor's ability to adapt to the changing spatial and social conditions of postwar metropolitan America?