In Dockworker Power: Race and Activism in Durban and the San Francisco Bay Area (2018) Peter Cole explores and compares the black internationalism and leftist politics of dockworkers in South Africa and the United States. In this exciting and ambitious new study, which won the 2019 Philip Taft Labor History Book Award, Cole traces the radical traditions of these workers in important port cities on two continents as workers challenged state racism, navigated the dramatic onset of containerization, and deployed boycotts in solidarity with social justice struggles in other countries. In this robust exchange Cole, who also wrote Wobblies on the Waterfront: Interracial Unionism in Progressive-Era Philadelphia (2007), debates his new book with Alex Lichtenstein. Like Cole, Lichtenstein has written extensively about working-class issues in both US and South African contexts.

Alex Lichtenstein: Dockworker Power is quite an achievement, since you manage to discuss—and compare—workers’ struggles on the docks in...

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