|About the Book|
In 2007, the Library of Congress honored 90-year-old San Franciscan Archie Green with its Living Legend Award. The award acknowledged Greens life long efforts to document the extensive cultural traditions of working people and educate the publicMoreIn 2007, the Library of Congress honored 90-year-old San Franciscan Archie Green with its Living Legend Award. The award acknowledged Greens life long efforts to document the extensive cultural traditions of working people and educate the public about the place of workers culture in a plural, democratic society. Green is best known for his instrumental role in the passing of the 1976 American Folklife Preservation Act and the subsequent establishment of the American Folklife Center. While this accomplishment deserves great praise, it is only one chapter in Greens remarkably influential life as a shipwright, trade unionist, folklorist, teacher, and principled public intellectual. Vernacular Strut: The Intellectual and Activist Legacy of Archie Green integrates extensive oral history with archival and secondary historical research in the first extensive study of how Greens political vision was shaped and how his commitment to cultural pluralism found expression through ground-breaking scholarship and activism.-This dissertation, as much about Green as it is necessarily about the historic eras which shaped and constrained his political projects, offers generative entry into central questions of politics and culture in the twentieth century. Chapter one examines his early political formation in relation to three topics: his parents experience in the Russian Revolution of 1905- his upbringing in the multi-ethnic, working-class neighborhoods of East Los Angeles during the 1920s and 1930s- and Left student politics during the Popular Front and New Deal. Chapter two traces how these formative experiences translated into surviving the explosive political climate of San Francisco maritime work in the early 1940s. We are introduced to the legendary union leadership struggle between Harry Bridges and Harry Lundeberg, and I offer a framework for understanding how Greens interpretation of this conflict deeply shapes his political philosophy. Chapter three interprets Greens efforts to integrate his trade union history and his passion for traditional music. I argue that one cannot understand his positions on vernacular authenticity and cultural pluralism without knowledge of his critiques of Popular Front folk revivalism. To conclude, chapter four examines how Greens interdisciplinary laborlore scholarship definitively contributed to public folklore, New Labor History, and American cultural studies.