Gregg A. Brazinsky: Is China’s New World Order Really New?

Potentially, One Belt One Road can also raise Beijing’s international profile at the expense of Washington’s. Especially with the Trump administration intent on putting “America First,” the PRC has an opportunity to promote itself as a champion of free trade and assert its global leadership. The PRC is challenging the United States more subtly than during the 1950s and 1960s but it nonetheless aims to create a new balance of economic power in which China and other non-Western countries will play a more important role. Continue Reading Gregg A. Brazinsky: Is China’s New World Order Really New?

Jennifer Van Horn: The Deceptive Caboodle

I remember with fondness, as do many of us who came of age in the 1990s, my neon pink and purple “caboodle.” For those of you unfamiliar with the form, it is a molded plastic container with a latched top that raises up to reveal a multitude of trays, containers, and mysteriously shaped indentations all intended to house cosmetics, hair products, and personal accessories. For my teenage self the caboodle was the ultimate symbol of femininity and the mysterious physical manipulations of skin and hair that being an adult woman required. My caboodle is long since gone, but I suspect its lingering memory shaped my interest in eighteenth-century cosmetics and the dressing furniture that housed them. Continue Reading Jennifer Van Horn: The Deceptive Caboodle

Book Trailer: City of Inmates by Kelly Lytle Hernández

Marshaling more than two centuries of evidence, historian Kelly Lytle Hernández unmasks how histories of native elimination, immigrant exclusion, and black disappearance drove the rise of incarceration in Los Angeles. In this telling, which spans from the Spanish colonial era to the outbreak of the 1965 Watts Rebellion, Hernández documents the persistent historical bond between the racial fantasies of conquest, namely its settler colonial form, and the eliminatory capacities of incarceration. Continue Reading Book Trailer: City of Inmates by Kelly Lytle Hernández

Sharon McConnell-Sidorick: How Flappers Helped Radicalize the Labor Movement and the New Deal

Union activists advanced a far-reaching, class-based vision that saw labor as a means to advance the rights of all working people. It was a vision of a new, socialist world and young members made it their own, combining Jazz Age rebelliousness with the left-wing traditions of the union. Women unionists used the brashness and irreverence that were hallmarks of the “flapper” in a surprisingly left-wing labor culture, merging constructions of “worker” with those of “modern woman.” They became “street-fighting women” supporting labor as a cause for human rights. They picketed and went to jail in droves for refusing to “move to the other side of the street” when ordered to by police, or participating in “lie-downs” to block driveways in front of mills, or calling strikebreakers “scabs” and threatening to beat them up. Women became such stalwarts on the picket lines that when they demanded a greater role in the union leadership, many of their male co-workers rushed to support them, insisting that “the women did do the fighting and you better give them their rights soon.” Continue Reading Sharon McConnell-Sidorick: How Flappers Helped Radicalize the Labor Movement and the New Deal

Jennifer Le Zotte: Poppin’ Tags: How Musicians Helped Make Used Clothes Fashionable

Macklemore’s 2013 tribute to thrift shops articulates the enduring association of creative output with secondhand commerce. Voluntary secondhand dress persists precisely because it suggests both cultural and economic distinction. It satisfies a desire to be seen as different than the average consumer dupe, as willing to invest time in the cultivation of originality without utilizing class and wealth privilege. In reality, however, secondhand economies and styles throughout the twentieth century are much more complicated; studying them reveals the futility of pursuing an effective anti-consumer consumption. But whatever the continuing or resurgent stigmas and social critiques of secondhand products may be, many creative dressers continue to agree with Macklemore’s concise assessment: “This is fucking awesome.” Continue Reading Jennifer Le Zotte: Poppin’ Tags: How Musicians Helped Make Used Clothes Fashionable

Brian Tochterman: Mailer for Mayor of the 51st State

Norman Mailer and Jimmy Breslin are part of a sometimes roving band of supporting characters that populate The Dying City. Mailer plays the role of the contrarian provocateur who challenges the dying city narrative, whether it’s holding up the risky brotherhood of New York City’s various youth gangs as an antidote to the “national disease” of boredom within the pages of Dissent or publishing a large format book on the cultural significance of the 1970s’ most otherwise reviled contemporary art form, spray-paint writing. Breslin, the longtime voice of New York within the pages of various dailies, is perhaps most famously known outside of the city as the epistolary confidant of David Berkowitz, a.k.a. Son of Sam, who addressed a cryptic letter to Breslin, then at the Daily News, during his 1977 killing spree. He also co-authored The Lonely Crimes, “or the crimes you don’t hear about,” series from October 1965 that is examined in my book. Continue Reading Brian Tochterman: Mailer for Mayor of the 51st State

Jennifer Van Horn: Problematic Prostheses

We might imagine that the first time prosthetic legs grabbed the American public’s attention was during the Civil War. But in fact, the American Revolution was the first armed conflict when controversy swirled around men’s amputated limbs. The number of amputees rose dramatically in the conflict, since amputation was the primary medical procedure used to save soldiers whose bones had been shattered by cannon and musket balls. Wooden legs were the predominant form of artificial limb in the eighteenth century (the Americans’ wounded British foes also donned them). However, only one lower limb prosthesis is known to survive from early America. It belonged to American statesman Gouverneur Morris and is now in the collection of the New-York Historical Society. Continue Reading Jennifer Van Horn: Problematic Prostheses

Erika Lee: The New Xenophobia and the Role of the Public Scholar Today

These days, the relevance of U.S. immigration history—who we have welcomed and who we have banned; who we have resettled and who we have left behind; how we began to enforce the border and how the “border” has moved into the interior—has never been more important. For immigration historians, the past, present, and future are colliding. Continue Reading Erika Lee: The New Xenophobia and the Role of the Public Scholar Today

Mireya Loza: 100 Years of Mexican Guest Workers in the United States

The experiences of braceros reveal contradictions within U.S. immigration policy that render Mexican laborers as necessary and Mexican settlement as unnecessary and unwarranted. The Bracero Program cemented the idea that in modern America, Mexican workers could come in, contribute their labor and expect no avenues of permanent incorporation into American life and no legal protections as workers. The termination of the Bracero Program did not bring an end to Mexican guest workers as Mexicans found themselves recruited for H2 visas. This category of visa was first introduced in the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 and by 1986 the status was subdivided and the letter “A” was added for agricultural workers. H2-A laborers not only walk in the historical footprints of the braceros that came before them but many are the children and grandchildren of braceros, creating one more link in the century of Mexican guest workers in America. So after 100 years of guest workers policies, do we continue to create an unequal system in which a group of people are only valued as laborers and never given the opportunity of true belonging as American citizens? Continue Reading Mireya Loza: 100 Years of Mexican Guest Workers in the United States

Deirdre M. Moloney: The Muslim Ban of 1910

Certain immigrants, including Mormons, Hindus, and Muslims faced barriers in their effort to settle in the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries because they were perceived as adhering to belief systems that were un-American. Though those religiously based cases were small relative to those immigrants facing exclusion or deportation based on their poverty or on medical grounds, they suggest that religious bias has long been a significant factor in early federal immigration policies. Continue Reading Deirdre M. Moloney: The Muslim Ban of 1910

Off the Page: Roundtable 1: Immigration

UNC Press is proud to host this first in a series of week-long virtual roundtables, featuring Press authors drawing on their work to address issues of contemporary concern. This week we share five short essays by leading scholars of immigration, including Elliott Young, Deirdre M. Moloney, Mireya Loza, Julie M. Weise, and Erika Lee. Continue Reading Off the Page: Roundtable 1: Immigration

Jennifer Le Zotte: Before Target, There Were Thrift Stores: How Postwar Secondhand Commerce Supported LGBTQ Rights

In recent years, corporate support of LGBTQ rights is not unusual, but in the 1950s and 1960s, major retailers were often complicit in the systematic anti-homosexual campaigns known as the Lavender Scare, firing gay employees and alienating or even arresting cross-dressing patrons attempting to try on clothing. In most states, wearing clothing “intended for the opposite sex”—even briefly in dressing rooms—meant risking a rap sheet. Commercial support of queer communities came instead from alternative retail sites— such as thrift stores. Goodwill Industries, Salvation Army, and the hundreds of small, locally owned secondhand shops multiplying in the postwar years, became queer shopping havens. Such places did not issue public responses of solidarity with non-normative dressers, but most did extend a sort of benevolent neglect to all customers. With no clerks angling for a commission, and a staff untrained in suggestive retailing, thrift stores were much safer places than Weinstein’s for cross-dressing men and women to try and buy the clothing of their choice. Continue Reading Jennifer Le Zotte: Before Target, There Were Thrift Stores: How Postwar Secondhand Commerce Supported LGBTQ Rights

Jonathan W. White: A Shadow Over My Heart: The Transformation of a Northern Woman’s Dream Life during the Civil War

Sitting at home, alone, many women in the North and South were overcome by feelings of fear and grief as their husbands fought on faraway battlefields. For all too many, nighttime only exacerbated their concerns. Nightmares of blood and gore tortured countless wives. And yet over time, some women gradually overcame such fearful feelings—even in their dreams. Continue Reading Jonathan W. White: A Shadow Over My Heart: The Transformation of a Northern Woman’s Dream Life during the Civil War

Nicole Eustace: Borders, Culture, and Nationhood in Early-Nineteenth-Century America     

As the United States leaders of 2017 contemplate dividing families and decimating workforces with new rules strictly limiting travel and immigration, they might do well to contemplate the human costs and historical errors inherent in such attempts. If American inhabitants were “warring for America” in the era of 1812, the struggle itself has never truly ceased. Continue Reading Nicole Eustace: Borders, Culture, and Nationhood in Early-Nineteenth-Century America     

Interview: Adrian Miller on The President’s Kitchen Cabinet

These chefs were simultaneously culinary artists, family confidantes and civil rights advocates. The most important contribution aside from their food is that they gave our presidents a window on black life that they would not otherwise have had. Only a handful of presidents chose to open that window, but it was there nonetheless. Continue Reading Interview: Adrian Miller on The President’s Kitchen Cabinet

Marc Stein: Immigration is a Queer Issue: From Fleuti to Trump

In Trump v. Washington, the Ninth Circuit panel has used a decision in a “gay rights” case as a precedent for a decision in a “Muslim rights” one. Continue Reading Marc Stein: Immigration is a Queer Issue: From Fleuti to Trump

Andrew Denson: The DAR Squabble: Possessing Cherokee History in the Southeast

In the spring of 1935, an odd dispute erupted between rival groups of heritage workers in Tennessee and Georgia over the right to commemorate the Cherokee “Trail of Tears.” That year, members of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) in Georgia decided to erect a small monument commemorating Red Clay, a site along the Tennessee border where the government of the Cherokee Nation met in the years just prior to removal. Continue Reading Andrew Denson: The DAR Squabble: Possessing Cherokee History in the Southeast

David S. Brown: America’s Sunbelt Politics: The Story of Three Centuries

Historians and social scientists such as Richard Hofstadter and Daniel Bell first began to use the term “Radical Right” in the 1950s as something of a reaction to McCarthyism. A decade later, with the unexpected presidential candidacy of the Republican Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater accompanied by the growth in wealth, population, and thus political power of many southern states, the term “Sunbelt Right” came into vogue. Continue Reading David S. Brown: America’s Sunbelt Politics: The Story of Three Centuries

Gregg A. Brazinsky: Sino-American Competition Past and Present

Trump’s campaign rhetoric and willingness to aggravate the thorny Taiwan issue have raised hackles in Beijing. Part of the reason for this is that China’s view of itself and its role in the international community differs starkly from Washington’s. Continue Reading Gregg A. Brazinsky: Sino-American Competition Past and Present

Lisa A. Lindsay: The Enduring Allure of Emigration

The outcome of this nineteenth-century emigration movement offers little comfort for those who would leave today. At least half of the African Americans who settled in West Africa perished of tropical diseases, while others struggled to eke out a living. And they were not welcome there. Though they called their colony Liberia and touted “the love of liberty” in their official motto, the settlers’ encounters with local Africans were marked by violence, condescension, and—ironically—conditions not unlike slavery. Continue Reading Lisa A. Lindsay: The Enduring Allure of Emigration