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    A Battle for the Neighborhood: The 1917 Philadelphia Sugar Strike and Food Boycott
    (2023) Israel, Jessie; Friedman, Andrew, 1974-; Gerstein, Linda
    On February 21, 1917, a group of 40 Eastern European housewives marched in protest down to the Franklin sugar refinery in South Philadelphia. Shouting, “We want food!” the women had come to join the picket line where their husbands and sons stood, on strike from the city’s three sugar refineries. Demanding a living wage and shorter hours, thousands of Polish and Lithuanian workers had walked out three weeks prior and joined the ranks of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), a radical socialist union. The spirit of protest soon rippled out into the surrounding neighborhood, when a group of working-class Jewish women announced the start of their own “strike”: a boycott on basic foodstuffs, whose prices had begun to rise since the beginning of World War I. For the following weeks, they rioted in the market streets of their immigrant neighborhood, toppling pushcarts, breaking shop windows, and pouring kerosene over boycotted foods. This thesis uses the 1917 South Philadelphia sugar strike and food boycott as a lens to understand the theories and techniques of urban immigrant organizing in World War I era Philadelphia. I argue that immigrant sugar strikers and food boycotters based their protest on a broad theory of labor which bridged every realm of life, in which both the domestic and industrial spheres afforded the laborer workplace rights. The protestors practiced a hybrid form of protest which was based in a place-based familiarity with the local geography of their neighborhood, ethnic social networks, and American socialist labor organizing traditions. Central to their community ties was food, which held importance in immigrant culture and the local economy, but also whose production (particularly in the case of sugar refining) was rooted in an extractive relationship between the refineries and their surrounding community. The strike and boycott represented a battle for control of the neighborhood, one combatant fighting for localized economic and social reproduction, and the other for international wartime and Progressive-era capitalist interests.
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    Motherwork in a Community of Care: the Midwife as a Public Figure in Early America
    (2023) Tomson, Catherine; Friedman, Andrew, 1974-
    Female humans manage their reproductive bodies. They find their best practices for managing periods, fertility, and childbirth. Often, they share that knowledge, formally or informally, but ultimately through the framework of care – the provision of help or aid to ensure the health, welfare, and safety of an individual who cannot or should not provide it for themselves. Childbirth is necessarily a moment of care – it is painful, long, vulnerable, and dangerous. It is done best with someone there to catch the baby, cut the cord, and hold the laboring woman. As women have always been giving birth, they have always been developing and sharing their methods to ease the pains of fertilizing, incubating, and delivering new life. Midwifery in its most basic, non-professionalized sense is the shared expert knowledge and practice between women surrounding human reproduction. Midwives birth children, deliver women, and treat maladies. In colonial and antebellum America, those medicinal interventions were the keystone to an expansive and integral social authority. Midwives oriented and enforced societal values while acting as envoys and advocates between the women they treated and the patriarchal power structures they lived in and against. In the 1960s and 1970s, feminist scholars began reevaluating the historical role of the midwife and her demotion from birthing room authority in the Western world. This project follows the footsteps of that feminist, feminine, and female-oriented historical scholarship by analyzing colonial and antebellum American midwifery with visceral empathy. The touches, soothings, grasps, screams, writhings, encouragements, and indictments are the body of this body-centered work. When this intimate choreographic attention is enriched with social, political, and cultural analysis, the full contours and impacts of the relationships between midwife, mother and community are revealed. Ultimately, this project finds that when physicians appropriated midwifery, they expropriated midwifery’s pharmacopeia, carework, and distinct social authority to professionally authenticate their own place in America’s birthing rooms.
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    A Fleeting Heimat, Yet an Enduring Impact: A Spatial and Legal Analysis of the Lasting Effects of Germany's KiautschouI Bay Leased Territory
    (2023) Voit, Lucas; Duan, Ruodi; Hayton, Darin
    This thesis analyzes the lasting structural impacts of the German colonization of Qingdao on both Qingdao’s built environment and the legal structures in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (ROC). The German colonization of Qingdao, which took place from 1898 to 1914, allowed for an exceptional transfer of German urban planning ideals, aesthetics, and legal philosophy to China. This thesis investigates the ways that this colonization influenced the development of Qingdao and the creation of a Chinese civil code. Through an analysis of written historical records from both China and Germany, visual evidence, and legal codes, this thesis explores how this colony came to be, how it functioned to transfer ideas, and how these values continue to be preserved. The thesis concludes that German colonization had a significant impact on the built environment of Qingdao, with lasting effects on the structural foundations of the city's architecture, urban planning, culture, and economy. Furthermore, it concludes that this period of colonization led to concrete impacts on the first Chinese Civil Code and continues to define the mechanics and contents of modern codes within the PRC and the ROC. Moreover, it argues that the German influence on China's civil codes has been underappreciated in the context of the historical scholarship of German colonialism and China’s legal system and warrants further study. This research sheds light on the complex interplay between colonialism, the built environment, and law, and highlights the need for a more nuanced understanding of how colonial legacies continue to shape modern China.
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    ‘A Little Irish Cailín in an Ould Plaid Shawl’: The “Colleen” Archetype and the Construction of Irishness
    (2023) Sweeney, Lillian; Graham, Lisa Jane, 1963-; Rosas, Marlen
    In 1922, 26 counties of Ireland established the Irish Free State and ended their formal connection to the United Kingdom. They aimed to remake themselves into the true Irish country they had been before English colonization. But in such an Ireland that ostensibly rejected the colonizer, the “colleen” archetype, always a portrait of a young Irish woman, had already embedded colonial gender and class structures into Irishness. In the hands of nineteenth-century tourists, philanthropists, and nationalists, the Irish colleen was unfailingly traditional. Connected to nature and the land, “lithe as a mountain deer,” the colleen exemplified an earthy femininity, grounded by her bare feet, and adorned by her cloak or shawl. This thesis argues that, by deploying the colleen as a symbol of Irish femininity, Irish national culture reappropriated a colonial power structure. It took on the characteristics externally ascribed to it while proclaiming that it had moved past its colonization. This work traces the colleen’s path through travel books, visual and aural media, “Irish villages” at international exhibitions including the 1893 World Colombian Exposition in Chicago, and nationalist organizations like the Cumann na gClocaí. This thesis’ final section explores how actual Irish women’s desire to wear modern clothing changed the colleen in the post-Independence Free State. No longer a clear archetype, she became a vaguer model of chastity and modesty. Her cloak and shawl then disappeared into the archive, to be made into historical icons of the nation.
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    “Matter Useful, Curious, and Entertaining”: the Almanac as Tool of Community-Building and Political Engagement
    (2023) Namour, Ella; Hayton, Darin; Graham, Lisa Jane, 1963-
    For rural communities in 19th century America, almanacs were an integral part of daily life, yet they have received very little attention from historians. This thesis examines the ways in which almanacs functioned as a critical tool to disseminate news and contemporary political information to a physically isolated–and often socially cloistered–bloc. Every farmer needed an almanac, and for many families they were the only piece of print media in the house besides the Bible. This meant that they had unique reach and an inherent sense of authority and trustworthiness. Churches, political organizations, and advertisers all published almanacs as a tool of publicity and public engagement. I argue that almanacs are one of our most important textual sources, because they created community across multiple registers at a time when the concept of national identity often felt abstract and indistinct to people, especially those in rural enclaves. On the most immediate register, readers found community by sharing information they read in almanacs, subscribing to the same almanacs as others in their towns, and engaging with local printshops and reading clubs. These were collective intellectual spaces where reading, writing, and critical thinking occurred with an accessible presentation. On a middle register, they found community by reading almanacs that were specific to their own interests, that connected them to a non-contiguous web of like-minded readers scattered across the United States. These publications served as community spaces with peers the reader might never meet in person, strengthening their awareness of the invisible ties defining their identities. On the most expansive register, they found community through the state and federal political information that almanacs nearly always featured—times in different cities, election results, information on laws passed, taxation news, and more. Almanacs contextualized rural people within a larger community they could not otherwise see or access, and allowed them to imagine themselves as part of the burgeoning Republic.