To Render Invisible: Jim Crow and Public Life in New South Jacksonville
University Press of Florida, 2013
Synopsis: What defines a city’s public space? Who designates such areas, who determines their uses, and who gets to use them? Today’s “Occupy” movement has brought widespread attention to these issues, but Robert Cassanello demonstrates that such questions have been part of urban life for more than a century.
Rough-and-tumble nineteenth-century Jacksonville serves as a springboard to his exploration of social transformation in Florida and the South. When free black men in the city first began to vote, conservative lawmakers pushed blacks from white public spaces in order to make blacks voiceless-invisible- in the public square and thus making the public sphere a white domain. The response was a black counterpublic that at times flourished clandestinely and at other times challenged racism in the public sphere.
Fortified by the theories of Henri Lefebvre, David Harvey, and Jürgen Habermas, this is the first book to focus on the tumultuous emergence of the African American working class in Jacksonville between Reconstruction and the 1920s. Cassanello brings to light many of the reasons Jacksonville, like Birmingham, Alabama, and other cities throughout the South, continues to struggle with its contentious racial past.
Reviews: “Covering a compelling local history, deeply imbricated with state and national events, To Render Invisible brings together dramatic stories of continuity and change, of gender and race, and of respectability and resistance in a brisk narrative lucidly informed by social theory.” -David Roediger, author of The Wages of Whiteness
“Well written, clearly and logically organized, and built upon a foundation of deep research in primary sources, including newspapers, Freemen’s bureau records, official documents and personal papers.” -Louis Kyriakoudes, author of The Social Origins of the Urban South
Migration and the Transformation of the Southern Workplace since 1945 (with Colin J. Davis)
University Press of Florida, 2010
Synopsis: Over the last forty years, the American South has become very diverse very quickly. New businesses and job opportunities in the region have driven this growth, brought an influx of capital, and attracted residents from other parts of the country and the world. Since World War II, traditionalism in the South has had to live side-by-side with a South embodying internationalism, diversity, and movement.
In this volume, a group of historians, anthropologists, and other social scientists examine the intersection of labor history and migration studies to explain the South’s recent dynamism in both urban and rural settings. Under the editorship of Robert Cassanello and Colin Davis, these essays examine the transformation of the Southern workplace since World War II, the impact migration has on workers who don’t move, and the corporations and industry that have relocated below the Mason-Dixon line.
Reviews: “Robert Cassanello and Colin J. Davis have done an outstanding job of selecting and organizing these essays. The works themselves cover a broad range of topics, places, and methodological approaches, building upon one another in their analyses of changes and continuities in the southern workplace. In doing so, they offer a prescient commentary on the region’s past, present, and future.” The Alabama Review
“The best collection available concerning current trends affecting the Southern working class.” -Leon Fink, University of Illinois-Chicago
“Offers a worthwhile look at migration, race, and labor in the modern South.” The Journal of American History Vol. 97, No. 3
Florida’s Working-Class Past: Current Perspectives on Labor, Race, and Gender from Spanish Florida to the New Migration (with Melanie Shell Weiss, eds.)
University Press of Florida, 2009
Synopsis: Florida provides a unique opportunity to explore the history of working men and women within a constantly changing environment. Stretching from the Spanish colonial period through the recent organizing efforts of service and agricultural workers, this collection showcases a broad spectrum of working experiences in a region that has been sorely neglected in many labor histories.
The essays in Florida’s Working-Class Past pay special attention to gender, race, ethnicity, migration, and social networks. Under the guidance of editors Robert Cassanello and Melanie Shell-Weiss, the contributors offer fresh analyses of labor activism, re-contextualize Indian tribute and slavery within the context of labor history, and examine major themes in labor and working-class history in one place over several centuries.
Reviews: “Offers a more complex portrait of southern labor, nuanced by a careful consideration of class, ethnicity, and race.” “Does an impressive job in covering topics unique to Florida.” “Reminds us that Florida, in its own distinct way, was part of the south.” Journal of Southern History
“A seminal contribution recommended for university library American History reference collections in general, and Floridian History Studies reading lists in particular.” The Midwest Book Review