Sonia Hernández and Stephanie Hinnershitz have been named the 2022 recipients of the Philip Taft Labor History Award. Hernández is an associate professor of history at Texas A&M, while Hinnershitz serves as a historian for the Institute for the Study of War and Democracy at the National WWII Museum.
Given for the best book published in 2021 on labor and working-class history, and sponsored by the ILR School, the Taft Prize Committee consists of Professor Ileen A. DeVault and Associate Professor Veronica Martinez-Matsuda from ILR’s Department of Labor Relations, Law, and History, as well as Labor & Working-Class History Association-appointed members Kimberly Phillips Boehm, Dennis Deslippe and Paul Ortiz.
“Both books are beautifully and imaginatively written on extremely different topics,” said DeVault, who serves as the chair of the committee. “Unable to make a clear decision between the two, we decided to award the prize for this year to both.”
Hernández book, For a Just and Better World: Engendering Anarchism in the Mexican Borderlands, 1900-1938, published by the University of Illinois Press, tells the story of how Caritina Piña and other Mexicanas in the Gulf of Mexico region fought for labor rights both locally and abroad in service to the anarchist ideal of a worldwide community of workers. Hernández’s framing of women’s lives brings to the fore the importance of gender rights in the period, as well as issues of race, ethnicity and nationalism.
Based on research on both sides of the Mexican border, this study of feminist politics in borderland communities provides a model for how to present transnational scholarship.
Hinnershitz’s book, Japanese American Incarceration: The Camps and Coerced Labor During World War II, published by the University of Pennsylvania Press, presents a true labor history of the prison camps set up for Japanese Americans during the War.
Mining both legal and historical archives in innovative ways, Hinnershitz provides a fascinating comparison of the camps to prison labor and the most thorough “labor history” of the camps to date. Along the way, she sheds new theoretical and historical light on other groups and times when coerced labor was entrenched.
Both authors will receive a Taft Prize check for $2000, as well as a plaque.