Wednesday, April 6, 2011

HC107A13R38 2006

Reading Southern Poverty between the Wars, 1918-1939

This review will be kind of disjointed because this book is made of a dozen essays and I had to read this book over the course of several days because it is heartbreaking. Friends wanted to know why I was in such a bad mood and I had to tell them, "Prison labor" or, "child mill workers" or, "Multi-generation confinement to turpentine camps." I don't have a background in this subject except from an art history perspective (ie Roy E. Stryker's amazing photos of rural poverty in the Great Depression) so I glad this book has so many excerpts from primary sources to help me understand.

One of the overarching themes of the essays is the heritability of poverty:
-Mill children in the early 1900s had a 90% rate of doing the same job as their parents, and when child labor was outlawed there was a two year gap between the end of school at 14 and the legal beginning of work at 16. Also, school wasn't free. (Webb, Ain't Worth a Damn for Nothin)
-After slaves were freed, many of them were arrested for being vagrants (which of course they were) and imprisoned. They could be hired out by labor camps which also had employees who were vagrants offered jobs and then working in debt peonage, which was passed on to children. (Miller, Murder, "Convict Flogging Affairs," and Debt Peonage)

One part that I liked because it wasn't sad and was about artists was when, in the John T Matthews essay, he writes that is Bourdieu's model, "As economic 'losers,' of course, elite artists occupy a social position inferior to those enjoying wealth and political power. This may lead many such artists to feel sympathy toward society's lesser classes."218

Reading the criticism of the New Deal was surprising to me, because I like the New Deal, so I will seek out some books about it.

No comments:

Post a Comment