Fall/Winter 2013/14 — Volume 7, Edition 1 — Issue credits

Postgraduate

ABSTRACT:

Scholars who examine the labor force in the American South often have a hard time breaking away from well-worn tropes. The characterization of southern workers as docile, backward, and generally hostile to organization has continued to endure in fields as diverse as labor history, economics, and industrial relations. A new generation of labor scholars began to mount a challenge to this tradition, starting in the early 1990s. They argue that when given the chance, southern workers have been as militant and likely to organize as their northern counterparts. They point to a long tradition of divide-and-conquer racism, directed violence, and general conspiracy by economic interests and their political allies for the widespread failure of organized labor in the south. They point to multiple episodes of successful worker organization and mutual cooperation, occasionally across racial boundaries, as evidence of this. While not universally applicable, the conclusions of this new school (often referred to as the “new southern labor history”) are invaluable in helping shake off old, stale stereotypes about southern workers. These historians have restored some measure of dignity and historical agency to these laborers, who have often been dismissed as willful subjects of a paternalistic economic order. This essay addresses scholarly attitudes towards southern auto workers, who make up an increasing portion of the labor force in that key industry. The rise of so-called “transplant” factories owned by foreign automakers in the US South has brought increased prosperity. But it has also turned many of these factories into a battleground for pro- and anti-union forces. A variety of explanations have been put forward to explain the unorganized status of most of these factories, including the alleged docility of southern labor. This essay finds that traditional paternalistic attitudes towards southern industrial workers still appear in scholarly literature, although some writers have moved away from these. Overall, there is still much work to be done regarding the attitudes of southern laborers in the auto industry towards unionization. Recent efforts by the United Auto Workers to organize the labor force at Mercedes-Benz in Alabama, Volkswagen in Tennessee, and Nissan in Mississippi may add another twist to the historiography of southern labor.

ABSTRACT:

This article explores the origins of the American missing children’s campaign in the late 1970s and early 1980s, as well as the ways in which specific conceptions of childhood innocence brought attention to certain cases of alleged child kidnapping, while ignoring other such incidents. Although many media scholars have identified and interrogated how news outlets privilege telegenic missing white females—going so far as to coin the term “missing white woman syndrome” in the 2000s—this work takes a longer historical approach to the subject and argues that white boyhood trumps girlhood and womanhood in its claims to “innocence.” The missing children phenomenon thus reveals and reifies existing markers of privilege in contemporary American society.