Volume 51 part 3 (December 2006)


Brian Kelly, 'Black Laborers, the Republican Party, and the Crisis of Reconstruction in Lowcountry South Carolina'
The wave of strikes that swept across the South Carolina rice fields in late 1876 offer rich material for revisiting the most compelling issues in the historiography of the postwar Reconstruction of the US's former slave states. They expose sharp tensions between the Republican Party's black, working-class constituency and its vacillating, mostly white, bourgeois leadership. Recent studies, based almost entirely on northern published opinion, have made the case that northern Republican elites were driven to "abandon the mid-century vision of an egalitarian free labor society" by assertive former slaves oblivious to the 'mutual interests' that ostensibly bound them and their employers. This article, based on extensive archival research, asserts that similar fissures opened up between ex-slaves and southern Republican officials. In a series of highly effective mobilizations against local planters and determined attempts to block Party officials from betraying their interests, rice field hands demonstrated a clear understanding of the critical issues at stake during the months leading up to the collapse of Reconstruction. Their intervention contrasted not only with the feeble holding operation pursued by Republican moderates in the upper levels of the party, but also with the timidity of many locally-rooted black officials nearer to the grassroots.

Liew Kai Khiun, 'Labour Formation, Identity, and Resistance in HM Dockyard, Singapore (1921-1971)'
For close on half a century, the British naval dockyard in Singapore was a prominent employer in the colony. The huge facility attracted migrant workers from the region, and entire settlements and communities were established around the premises of the dockyard as well. This article seeks to place the legacy of Singapore's naval-base workers within the historical contexts of the entanglements between imperialism, diaspora, social movements, and labour resistance. The development of international labour flows, formation, and identity was reflected in the prominence of the migrant Malayalee community and its socio-religious organizations at the naval base. Furthermore, the routine individual defiance and industrial unrest went beyond disputes about wage levels and working conditions. They were enmeshed within the broader undercurrents of Singapore's transitory political culture, and between the interwar decades and the period of decolonization disturbances at the naval dockyard became part of larger political contestations.

Ileen A. DeVault, '"Too Hard on the Women, Especially": Striking Together for Women Workers' Issues'
This essay draws upon a larger study of over 40 strikes which involved both male and female strikers in the United States between the years 1887 and 1903. Here the focus of analysis is on those strikes which began with demands raised by women workers. The essay examines the nature of women workers' demands, the ways in which cooperation with male co-workers altered those demands, and the affect that formal union involvement had on women strikers and their strike demands. Because the original set of case studies examines strikes across the United States, the strikes explored here also highlight a variety of geographic locations. The insights gained suggest future paths for research on the distinction between women's and men's strike demands.