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James JW Robinson

Ph.D. in History

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Cohort: 2015

Research Interests United States in the World, US Labor, International Sports, Urban, Social Movements

Bio: I am originally from Philadelphia, and avid Philly sports fan. I also enjoy walking my dog, visiting ballparks, Star Trek, dive bars, and collective bargaining rights of all workers. My dissertation is entitled “Strikes and Strikeouts: Building Sports Culture From Below by Left-wing Radicals in the United States; A Global Perspective, 1918-1950.” My dissertation will expose the hidden history of how left-wing activists in the United States engaged with sports as a participatory activity for building organizational strength, morale, and outreach/influence over potential members and allies. I argue that sports programs were an essential part of successful leftwing socialist and labor organizing during the interwar period in the United States. I compare those programs to European-center Worker Sport federations and make international connections between the two traditions. I look specifically at Communist Party and Socialist Party sports programs, and the growth of left-led unions in the labor sports movement, such as the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, the United Autoworkers, the United Electrical Workers, and other unions, as well as New York City labor athletics federations led by leftists that agitated for anti-racist, anti-fascist working class counterculture.

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