Global Radicalism and the "One Big Union": Transnational Histories of the Industrial Workers of the World

AHA Session 225
Sunday, January 8, 2012: 8:30 AM-10:30 AM
Chicago Ballroom D (Chicago Marriott Downtown)
Peter Cole, Western Illinois University
Peter Cole, Western Illinois University

Session Abstract

Founded in Chicago in 1905, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) was one manifestation of a global upsurge of labor radicalism and revolutionary syndicalism. Yet the standard works on the IWW portray it as an indigenous product of the American “frontier” and its historiography, with a few notable exceptions, lags far behind the recent turn to transnationalism, especially in light of the fact that it was linked to labor and radical movements in Latin America, Europe, Australia, Africa, and Asia, and was the only major syndicalist organization of its day to establish branches in multiple countries and on multiple continents. The presentations included in this panel are part of a larger project aiming to broaden the story of American labor radicalism beyond the borders of the United States by focusing on the transnational origins, influences, and activities of this self-consciously internationalist organization.

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