New Issue: JSH August 2019

The Journal of Southern History editors announce the publication of the August 2019 issue, the third of Volume 85. The issue has been mailed to SHA members and is available digitally through our partnership with Project MUSE.

Aaron R. Hall contributes “Public Slaves and State Engineers: Modern Statecraft on Louisiana’s Waterways, 1833–1861.” In this study of “coercive statecraft” in antebellum Louisiana, Hall examines “an unfamiliar history of American state-building through state slavery.” Through a state-owned enslaved force of “public hands” engaged in the dangerous, difficult, and technically sophisticated work of clearing the bayous and other waterways for navigation, Louisiana implemented a statewide internal improvements system wherein the state “mobilized the expropriated human power of racial enslavement to govern nature for state growth.” This proslavery ideology, Hall argues, was also “pro-government”; it was rooted not in “private paternalism” but in “public utility.” “As an experiment in governance, Louisiana’s program had embraced the aim of fostering a plantation state, the challenge of disciplining an unruly environment, and the method of pairing techno-scientific expertise with state slavery,” Hall concludes. It was this state “embodied” by the work of the enslaved that could “imagine”—and act on—secession and a war waged for slavery. Dr. Hall is currently a Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow at Cornell University. He will join the History Department faculty of the University of Minnesota in the fall of 2020.

Colin L. Anderson, a Ph.D. candidate in American studies at George Washington University, investigates the “deeply imbricated nature of space and race in postbellum American society” in “Segregation, Popular Culture, and the Southern Pastoral: The Spatial and Racial Politics of American Sheet Music, 1870–1900.” In an analysis of the lyrics and cover art of late-nineteenth-century popular American music, Anderson argues that “the southern pastoral portrayed white social control as dependent on the immobilization of black bodies in space.” These cultural priorities reflected white Americans’ fear of black mobility and the intention to extend what Stephanie M. H. Camp calls slavery’s “geography of containment” into Jim Crow segregation and ghettoization. The “spatial analytic” deployed in this article, Anderson concludes, “usefully highlights the vital link between spatial containment and white social control, a link that is manifest in American society to this day.”

In “The Making of a Modern Feminist Vanguard, 1964–1973: Southern Women Whose Leadership Shaped the Movement and the Nation—A Synthetic Analysis,” Carol Giardina argues that southern women, with roots and experience in the South’s black freedom struggle, were “architects and engineers” of the women’s liberation movement. “The impact of southern women’s founding leadership cuts across feminism’s rebirth years no matter where one looks,” Giardina writes, “from the formation of the movement and its structure, theory, and strategy to foundational breakthroughs against sexist and racist laws and traditions.” Black and white southern women brought the crucial lesson of “taking on an oppressive system collectively” to the movement for women’s equality. Without a full understanding of the role of southern women in modern feminism, Giardina concludes, “the meaning of pivotal movement theory has been muddled and lessons from one movement that helped form a rising one have been lost.” Dr. Giardina is an assistant professor of history at Queens College, City University of New York.

The August 2019 issue also features “Black Women and Black Power: A Review Essay on New Directions in Black Power Studies,” by Christina Greene, a professor of Afro-American studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. The essay focuses on two new books on Black Power women: Remaking Black Power: How Black Women Transformed an Era (University of North Carolina Press), by Ashley D. Farmer; and The Promise of Patriarchy: Women and the Nation of Islam (University of North Carolina Press), by Ula Yvette Taylor. In addition, the issue has the usual contingent of 75+ book reviews, covering new scholarship with a range of topics, periods, subfields, and methodologies.

Finally, the Historical News and Notices section contains important information about the 2019 Southern Historical Association meeting in Louisville, November 7–10, as well as the Call for Papers for the 2020 Southern, which will be held in Memphis.

About the Author

Bethany L. Johnson is the Managing Editor of the Journal of Southern History.