Migration and Transformation of the Southern Workplace Since 1945 (review)
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Migration and Transformation of the Southern Workplace Since 1945. Edited by Robert Cassanello and Colin J. Davis. (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2009. Pp. x, 209. $ 65.00 cloth)

A realization of the growing complexities of the modern, latest "New South" calls for seeing the former Confederacy in a newer, globalized light. Into this realm enters the book Migration and Transformation of the Southern Workplace Since 1945, a collection of scholarly essays on issues related to the southern worker since the end of World War II. The editors of Migration and Transformation, Robert Cassanello and Colin J. Davis, begin by briefly examining the last forty years of historiography in relation to southern labor, politics, and culture. Essays in the book highlight the issues of immigration, migration, and globalization in the modern South.

The most important feature of this book is the fact that it expands the concept of race in the South beyond black and white. After reading this book, one will understand the need to incorporate Hispanics into any history of the South set after the civil rights era. "From Minority to Majority: The Latinization of Miami's Workforce, 1940-1980," Melanie Shell-Weiss's essay about the of the growth of Miami, shows how a city now known for its large Hispanic population became that way. The growth of the Hispanic population in Miami is shown by Shell-Weiss to be the result of recruitment by Miami's leaders for laborers to expand the economy of the city and the exodus of professionals from Cuba after Castro's rise to power in 1959. Shell-Weiss points to a problem that plagues the South today: conflict between Hispanic and native-born American workers, especially black Americans who once occupied lower-wage jobs. In Miami, "the perception that Cubans posed a direct threat to Miami's working classes, white or black," hurt race relations (p. 22).

Raymond A. Mohl's "Latinos and Blacks in the Recent American South" covers the themes of Hispanics in the South in much broader detail, expanding on the issues dividing Latino immigrants and the "traditional" southern populations of whites and blacks. [End Page 164] Hispanics also appear in "Tyson Foods, Holly Farms, and the Rise of Big Chicken" and "Moving Capital, Moving Workers, and the Mountain Work Ethic." In all three cases, they are portrayed as immigrants willing to work for lower wages, which makes them more useful than black workers who are seen by both employers and some Hispanic workers as "lazy."

"The Price of Longevity: Home Demonstration and Rural Reform in Modern Florida" does an excellent job of showcasing women in Florida and their attempt to help rural citizens of that state during tumultuous times. Kelly Minor makes it clear that the early home-demonstration women had high ambition, but after the start of the cold war, narrowed their activism and focus to adjust to a population moving from the country to the city. Touching on matters of the rural community, "Leaving the Farm to Save the Farm" by Monica Gisolfi shows the intersection of rural communities and the larger, impersonal forces of globalization that threatened to destroy their way of life. Families found it harder and harder to work on the farm, needing to take extra work just to keep their farms in business with larger corporations.

The South after 1945 was a very complex region, torn by divisions over race and jobs. Large, impersonal forces, such as corporations and globalization, not to mention the ever-present issue of race, shaped the South in various ways after World War II, and the essays of Migration and Transformation of the Southern Workplace Since 1945 do an excellent job in showing these diverse issues.

Robert J. Greene

Robert J. Greene II is a graduate student at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia. He is currently completing a thesis on the portrayal of Populism in the Georgia and national press during the election year of 1896.

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