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University of Iowa News Release

Nov. 1, 2005

Roediger Will Read From 'Working Toward Whiteness' Nov. 14 At Prairie Lights

David Roediger, a pioneer in "whiteness studies," will read from his new book "Working Toward Whiteness: How America's Immigrants Became White," at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 14, on the "Live From Prairie Lights" series on University of Iowa radio station WSUI, AM 910.

This broadcast of a free event from the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City, hosted by Julie Englander, may be accessed on the Internet at

Roediger, a University of Illinois history professor, is concerned with the symbolic and material values of being white in race-conscious America. He is also and author of "The Wages of Whiteness" and "Colored White: Transcending the Racial Past."

A preview in Publishers Weekly summarized, "Too much recent scholarship 'simply ignores the long, circuitous process by which "new immigrants" became white ethnics,' declares Roediger, finding that the process in the early 20th century was slower and messier. Well-detailed examples include Greeks and Italians victimized by white mobs at the turn of the century -- with the Chicago newspapers providing the parenthetical identification "Italian" in crime stories just as they did "Negro".

"Jobs, Roediger finds, were often divided on lines that separated whites from European immigrants, but unions opened to European immigrants more readily than to blacks, Mexican-Americans and Asian-Americans. . . . Roediger's book tills some major historical ground."

Among his books are "Our Own Time: A History of American Labor and the Working Day" (with Philip S. Foner), "The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the making of the American Working Class" and "Towards the Abolition of Whiteness." He is the editor of "Fellow Worker: The Life of Fred Thompson," "The North and Slavery" and "Black on White: Black Writers on What It Means to Be White," as well as an edition of Covington Hall's "Labor Struggles in the Deep South." His articles have appeared in New Left Review, Against the Current, Radical History Review, History Workshop Journal, The Progressive and Tennis.

Of Roediger's work, George Lipsitz, author of "The Possessive Investment in Whiteness," asserted, "No other writer on whiteness can match Roediger's historical breadth and depth: his grasp of the formative role played by race in the making of the 19th century working class, in defining the contours of 20th-century U.S. citizenship and social membership, and in shaping the meaning of emerging social identities and cultural practices in the 21st century."

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