16: de/industrialization with Christine Walley (EF and JP)

On a blustery fall morning, RTB welcomed Christine Walley, anthropologist and author of Exit Zero: Family and Class in Postindustrial Chicago. In the early 1980s Chris’s father, along with thousands of other steel workers, lost his job when the mills in Southeastern Chicago closed. The book is part of a multimodal project, including the documentary film, “Exit Zero: An Industrial Family Story,” (with director Chris Boebel) and an NEH-funded digitization project of the Southeastern Chicago Historical Museum, a community-based archive of materials related to the neighborhood.

WWI Bond Rally at Pressed Steel in Southeast Chicago
Courtesy of the Southeast Chicago Historical Museum

How can academics begin conversations about class and deindustrialization with those most negatively affected by the precarious economic present? What is the secret to unpacking the great diversity hidden behind the phrase “white working class”? This episode’s signature RTB move (fleeing the present, only to discover echoes of its misery back in the past) takes us to Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel North and South, published in 1854 just as industrialization in the North of England was taking off.

Going to Work, L.S. Lowry, 1943

In Recallable Books, Elizabeth lingers in England’s North to recommend George Orwell’s The Road to Wigan Pier. Chris points out how Jane Addams’s Twenty Years at Hull House (though perhaps patronizing in some ways) shows us 19th century projects for combating the dislocation and suffering of deindustrialization. John goes against type by anteing up the most current of our recallable books, Joseph O’Neill’s The Dog.

Mentioned in this episode:

Exit Zero: Family and Class in Postindustrial Chicago, Christine J. Walley

The Jungle, Upton Sinclair

Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, Benedict Anderson

Chicago School of Sociology

Suspended Dreams: the Afterlife of Memory in Photographic Album, Martha Langford

Trump’s Election and the ‘White Working Class’: What We Missed, Christine J. Walley

 North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell

My Year of Rest and Relaxation, Ottessa Moshfegh

Give a Man a Fish, James Ferguson

The Human Condition, Hannah Arendt

The Road to Wigan Pier, George Orwell

Twenty Years at Hull House, Jane Addams

The Dog, Joseph O’Neill

Listen to the episode here:

Download the transcript here:

BREAKING NEWS: Last month, we boasted “John is going on the road to track down an elusive English filmmaker in Columbus Ohio, of all places (November 21).” Thanks to some speedy editing by top-drawer intern Claire Ogden, we will be able to publish that interview with a Manchester-born genius on Halloween instead.

(Who might the filmmaker be? Does this obscure image help?)

English filmmaker

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