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MSU History Scholar Receives National ‘Best Book’ Award

book cover: Sex Workers, Psychics and Numbers Runners

LaShawn D. Harris, assistant professor in Michigan State University’s Department of History, is the recipient of the 2017 Darlene Clark Hine Award from the Organization of American Historians.

Given annually for the best book in African-American women’s and gender history, Harris received this award for her book, “Sex Workers, Psychics, and Numbers Runners: Black Women in New York City’s Underground Economy.”

According to the Organization of American Historians, Harris’ work is “groundbreaking labor and black women’s history centered on the lives of African-descended women whose intersectional marginality—race, gender, class, labor profile and criminal status—place them far beyond the ‘typical’ subject of historical analysis.”

In its announcement, the organization added, “Harris has meticulously excavated these women’s lives, exploring their social and labor histories so that her readers understand not only who they are, where they came from, how they came to work on the other side of the law and what were the intended and unintended consequences of their labor, but also the raw agency and struggle for ‘freedom’ that they grasped for, and often obtained, if only temporarily through their illicit work.”

The award was announced on April 8 by Edward L. Ayers, president of the Organization of American Historians.

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