Friday, August 3, 2007

J. Willard Hurst Prize to Nancy MacLean for Freedom is Not Enough

Nancy MacLean, Department of History, Northwestern University, is the 2007 winner of the J. Willard Hurst Prize for the best book in American Legal History, awarded by the Law and Society Association. Her book is Freedom is Not Enough: The Opening Up of the American Workplace (Harvard University Press).

Michael Grossberg, Indiana University, chaired this year's committee. Committee members were: Elizabeth Dale, University of Florida; Lawrence Friedman, Stanford University; Joanna Grossman, Hofstra University; David Konig, Washington University; and Sanford Levinson, University of Texas.

The committee called Freedom Is Not Enough "a rich and convincing tale about the centrality of workplace rights in the post World War II quest for civil rights in the United States. Taking her title from lines in a 1965 speech by Lyndon Johnson’s 1965 at Howard University, MacLean has written a fascinating narrative of grassroots struggles for workers’ rights that illuminates the links between gender, race, ethnicity, and political movements. Her stories, drawn from substantial archival research, are filled with telling examples of individual struggles by African-Americans, women, and Mexican-Americans against what she terms the ‘culture of exclusion.’ Through these stories she chronicles the efforts to implement path-breaking civil rights legislation and judicial decisions on the shop floor, construction site, and farm field as well as in the streets and the courts. At the same time, she insightfully weaves into her chronicle the conservative counterattacks that arose in response to each campaign for workplace diversity. She shows how this increasingly effective backlash combined with ineffective efforts to enforce antidiscrimination laws to limit drives for workplace equity and shift the public debate from affirmative action to reverse discrimination and quotas. MacLean places these intertwined stories in a broad political, cultural, and economic context that makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the interplay between law and society in the recent past. In doing so, Freedom Is Not Enough simultaneously illuminates and complicates our understanding of contemporary clashes over civil rights in America.”

The Hurst Prize Committee also recognized Université Laval historian Donald Fyson for his book Magistrates, Police, and People, Everyday Criminal Justice in Quebec and Lower Canada, 1764-1837 (University of Toronto Press), with an Honorable Mention. The citation reads: “Magistrates, Police, and People is a deeply researched and theoretically ambitious local study of criminal justice under shifting colonial regimes. Championing a revisionist social history, Fyson argues persuasively that everyday legal experiences are critical to understanding the nature of the legal process in any particular place and time. Through telling examples and compelling analyses, he demonstrates how local history can illuminate a broad legal landscape.”

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