Monday, October 30, 2023 6:30pm
About this Event
265 Aragon Ave, Coral Gables, FL 33134
Join us to celebrate this recent book, Hillbilly Highway: The Transappalachian Migration and the Making of a White Working Class, by Max Fraser, Assistant Professor, Department of History.
Hillbilly Highway presents the largely untold story of the great migration of white southerners to the industrial Midwest and its profound and enduring political and social consequences.
Over the first two-thirds of the twentieth century, as many as eight million whites left the economically depressed southern countryside and migrated to the booming factory towns and cities of the industrial Midwest in search of work. The “hillbilly highway” was one of the largest internal relocations of poor and working people in American history, yet it has largely escaped close study by historians. In Hillbilly Highway, Max Fraser recovers the long-overlooked story of this massive demographic event and reveals how it has profoundly influenced American history and culture—from the modern industrial labor movement and the postwar urban crisis to the rise of today’s white working-class conservatives.
The book draws on a diverse range of sources—from government reports, industry archives, and union records to novels, memoirs, oral histories, and country music—to narrate the distinctive class experience that unfolded across the Transappalachian migration during these critical decades. As the migration became a terrain of both social advancement and marginalization, it knit together white working-class communities across the Upper South and the Midwest—bringing into being a new cultural region that remains a contested battleground in American politics to the present.
The compelling story of an important and neglected chapter in American history, Hillbilly Highway upends conventional wisdom about the enduring political and cultural consequences of the great migration of white southerners in the twentieth century.
Max Fraser is a scholar of American labor, cultural, and political history. His research and teaching focus primarily on working class life and social movements in the twentieth century; on the rise of new strains of political conservatism in the decades after World War II; and on the class politics of American popular culture. He is now beginning research on a second major project, on the figure of the outlaw in American politics and culture. His scholarship has been published in journals such as American Art, Labor: Studies in Working-Class History, Raritan, and Southern Cultures, and he writes a regular column on big business and American politics for New Labor Forum. He has also worked as a journalist, reporting on the labor movement and the economy for a range of publications including Dissent and The Nation.