Volume 49 part 3 (December 2004)


Diane P. Koenker, Scripting the Revolutionary Worker Autobiography: Archetypes, Models, Inventions, and Markets
This essay offers approaches to reading worker autobiographies as a genre as well as source of historical "data." It focuses primarily on one example of worker narrative, the autobiographical notes of Eduard M. Dune recounting his experiences in the Russian revolution and civil war, and argues that such texts cannot be utilized even as "data" without also appreciating the ways in which they were shaped and constructed. The article proposes some ways to examine the cultural constructions of such documents, to offer a preliminary typology of lower-class autobiographical statements for Russia and the Soviet Union, and to offer some suggestions for bringing together the skills of literary scholars and historians to the task of reading workers' autobiographies.

Wessel P. Visser, "To Fight the Battles of the Workers": The Emergence of Pro-strike Publications in Early Twentieth-Century South Africa
The role of pro-strike newspapers during the first two decades of labour history in twentieth-century South Africa, an era of intense industrial strife, has not been researched in depth by labour historians. This article examines the emergence of a pro-strike press and examines its position on various strike issues. It served as a conduit for workers' grievances during industrial disputes, such as the strikes of 1911, 1913, 1914 and 1922. Such papers were often also the only means of communication between the strike committee and the strikers themselves. The article also discusses the extent to which such publications might have impacted upon their readership and actual strike action. It concludes that pro-strike literature in essence reflects a "White Labour" discourse and a fusion of the class and racial consciousness that prevailed among the white working class of South Africa.

Dietlind Hüchtker, Strategies and Tactics: The Politics of Subsistence in Berlin, 1770-1850
The possibilities that poor women and men had for earning a living were oriented not only around income and professional opportunities, but around the practical competencies they possessed in an urban culture of beseeching and begging. The reform policy of the state, which sought to integrate poor relief officials and members of the almsgiving middle class into the poor relief administration, was directed against "politics on the street." The introduction of municipal self-administration promoted an institutionalization of poor relief policy that excluded woman on the basis of their sex. In the stereotypical discourses of the era, images of the "poor mother" and the "loose wench" became symbols of a new poor relief policy. As someone who begged, the "poor mother" was the subject of a culture of beseeching and begging; as the wretched mother abandoned by her husband, she became the ideal object of an institutionalized poor relief policy. The stylization of women as passive victims and the exclusion of women from municipal institutions worked together to establish a new order of charity.