At the SLSA 2020 Plenary session, Professor Hugett was awarded the Zeiger Prize. Here are Professor Paul Ortiz's remarks about Robert Zieger and Professor Hughett 's wonderful and compelling essay.
The Robert H. Zieger Prize in Southern Labor Studies was established in 2013. The Southern Labor Studies Association wanted to recognize Professor Bob Zieger’s remarkable life in labor, scholarship and activism. Bob was a beautiful person. He was a great friend to many of the colleagues gathered here today. He modeled the values of mutuality and solidarity and taught these values to thousands of students and fellow union members.
Throughout his career Dr. Zieger read hundreds of dissertations, book manuscripts, and he wrote countless book blurbs for junior scholars. Equally important, he gave tremendous career advice for younger labor historians. Bob demonstrated in his numerous books, essays, and op-eds that it is possible to combine rigorous scholarship with accessibility. His former students—many of whom have become union organizers, teachers and scholars credit Bob for teaching them to write and communicate to general audiences.
Bob and his beloved wife of fifty years Dr. Gay Zieger were indispensable members of Gainesville Florida for decades. I recall with great fondness making office visits with Bob as a fellow United Faculty of Florida member attempting to get our colleagues in Chemistry, Business, Engineering and other fields to join the union at UF. On more than one occasion a professor in one of these fields would tell Bob and I that “Unions were for common laborers, not members of the faculty.”
The competition for this year’s Robert H. Zieger prize was intense. We received numerous submissions. The quality of this year’s entries was so high that we needed two full meetings to make our decision. I want to thank our wonderful committee of Professor Michelle Haberland from Georgia Southern University and Professor Max Krochmal for their careful reading and consideration of each entry.
After much consideration, our committee Chose Amanda Hughett’s essay,
“From Extraction to Repression: Prison Labor, Prison Finance, and the Prisoners' Rights Movement in North Carolina," to receive the 2020 Southern Labor Study Association’s Robert H. Zieger Award.
The committee agreed that Dr. Hughett’s essay was well-researched, and gave readers a sense of the agency and organization of imprisoned people. Hughett, an assistant professor of Legal Studies at the University of Illinois Springfield, provides a critical new intervention in the study of the rise of mass incarceration, neo-liberalism as well as the importance of working on radical prison reforms in our own time.
Please join me in congratulating Amanda Hughett, the 2020 recipient of the Southern Labor Studies Association’s Robert H. Zieger Award!