Southeastern Michigan Bibliography

A resource guide for students, educators, researchers, Michiganders, and everyone else

Whose Detroit?: Politics, Labor, and Race in a Modern American City

Thompson, Heather Ann. 2001. Whose Detroit?: Politics, Labor, and Race in a Modern American City. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Following Thomas Sugrue, Thompson argues that urban centers like Detroit didn’t naturally waste away due to white flight or industrial decline, but due to specific political and economic factors. Thompson focuses on 20th century labor struggles through the 1970s.  Spiraled throughout is the trial of Chrysler UAW autoworker James Johnson Jr., which serves as a mechanism to highlight the conflicting expectations about labor rights and racial justice among multiple factions in labor and city political leadership.  Critics have questioned some of Thompson’s broader conclusions, but the book remains a core source of information to support and contextualize Georgakas and Surkin’s 1998 cri de coeur, Detroit, I do mind dying.




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Supported by a Carnegie-Whitney Grant from the American Library Association.


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