Landscapes of Solidarity: Timber Workers and the Making of Place in the Pacific Northwest, 1900-1964
Beda, Steven Christopher
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This dissertation is an environmental history of Northwest timber workers. Looking at rural logging communities in Washington, Oregon, northern California, Idaho, and British Columbia between 1900 and 1964, it examines how timber-working communities interacted with the physical environment through work, subsistence, and recreation and explores how nature shaped working-class culture, community, and the politics of one union, the International Woodworkers of America (IWA). This study identifies an ethic of place as a critical part of working-class experience in the Northwest woods. Timber-working communities developed their identities through their relationship with the forest, and while they believed in the work they did, as well as in the lumber industry's important economic place in the rural Northwest, they also believed that changes to the landscape brought about by industrial logging needed to be carefully considered and at times constrained. In the postwar period, timber workers belonging to the IWA began putting political pressure on the lumber industry to try to force their employers to follow more responsible harvesting guidelines and later supported forest preservation and attempts to expand Northwestern wilderness areas. This study contributes to recent efforts to combine labor and environmental history. It highlights the central role that nature and visions of the landscape play in working-class culture and politics and demonstrates that place is an important category of analysis in working-class history. By examining work, recreation, and subsistence practices, it highlights the multiple ways working-class people engaged with nature. And, by documenting the IWA's role in forest policy debates it highlights the central role that working people and unions have played in the history of environmentalism.
- History