A Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History, Alex Morrow studies America in the twentieth century and the history of working-class culture. His dissertation research focuses on the substantial network of casual laborers that migrated between Pacific Coast cities over the last 60 years. With a concern for contemporary debates over contingent labor, urban poverty, and immigration, his work explores the historical phenomenon of "day labor." Alex was the 2004-05 Harry Bridges Graduate Fellow, a Simpson Center Scholar, and recipient of the JC Smith Memorial Fellowship, as well as a union activist and former line cook.
Laboring for the Day: Casual and Migrant Workers, Urban Politics, and the Shaping of the Pacific Coast in the Mid-Twentieth Century
Faculty Supervisor: Jim Gregory, Department of History
This dissertation tracks the changing economic context and cultural meaning of casual and migrant workers along the Pacific Coast of the United States from the 1920s to the 1960s. Placed within a particular temporal and geographic frame, this project seeks to understand the changing political economy of a distinct sector of America’s working poor. An object of scrutiny by public officials, social scientists and the public, the presence of these workers in urban areas became the touch point for debates about race, industrial relations, social policy, and urban decline. Throughout the twentieth century, the subject of transient workers has continually reflected and enabled powerful symbols of class, race, and citizenship. "Laboring for the Day" lends past perspective to contemporary discourse about urban poverty and the working class through social and cultural historical methods.
Seattle Labor and Civil Rights Project: http://depts.washington.edu/civilr/
PhD Candidate in the Department of History, Expected graduation date in 2011.