The first major volume to place U.S.-centered labor history in a transnational or U.S.-in-the-world focus, Workers Across the Americas collects the newest work of leading Canadianist, Caribbeanist, and Latin American specialists, as well as U.S. historians. As distinct from comparative histories built around the integrity of their nation-state subjects, these essays highlight both the supra- or sub-national aspect of selected topics without ignoring the power of nation-states themselves as historical forces. Indeed, the transnational focus opens new avenues for understanding changes in the concepts, policies and practice of states, their interactions with each other and their populations, and the ways in which the popular classes resist, react, and use both nation-state and non-state entities to advance their interests. What does this transnational turn encompass? And what are its likely perils as well as promise as a framework for research and analysis?
To address these questions six eminent scholars (John French, Julie Greene, Neville Kirk, Aviva Chomsky, Dirk Hoerder, and Vic Satzewich) lead off the volume with their own critical commentaries on the very project of transnational labor history. Their responses effectively offer a tour of explanations, tensions, and cautions in the evolution of a new arena of research and writing. Thereafter, Workers Across the Americas groups fifteen research essays around themes of Labor and Empire, Indigenous Peoples and Labor Systems, International Feminism and Reproductive Labor, Labor Recruitment and Immigration Control, Transnational Labor Politics, and Labor Internationalism. Topics range from military labor in the British Empire to coffee workers on the Guatemalan/Mexican border to the Atlantic white slavery traffic to the role of the International Labor Organization in attempting to set common labor standards. Leading scholars-including Camille Guerin-Gonzalez, Alex Lichtenstein, Nelson Lichtenstein, Colleen O'Neill, Premilla Nadasen, and Bryan Palmer-introduce each section and also make recommendations for further reading.