UCL Institute of the Americas


Josh Hollands awarded dissertation prize by the Labor and Working Class History Association

28 May 2021

In a sophisticated and well-researched narrative, Josh Hollands's work examines six case studies to show the centrality of the workplace to battles over equality for sexual minorities, thereby providing a major contribution to labor as well as gay history.


We are delighted to announce that Josh Hollands's doctoral dissertation has been awarded the Herbert G. Gutman Prize for Outstanding Dissertation in U.S. Labor and Working Class History by the Labor and Working Class History Association (LAWCHA) at their 2021 annual conference. The awarding committee describes Josh's work as '...a path breaking exploration of the uneven pattern of LGBTQ employment discrimination across the Sunbelt and the efforts by activists to achieve full equality. As Hollands demonstrates, few southern states provided workplace protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans workers, even after the right to marry had been achieved in 2015. Thus, as Hollands expressed the contradiction, “workers across the South and Southwest can be married to someone of the same sex on a Sunday but be legally fired on a Monday for being gay.” 

In presenting the prize, Chair of the Award Committee, Professor Julie Greene (University of Maryland) added:

"'Work and Sexuality in the Sunbelt' tells a fascinating story. Dr. Hollands’ project is a beautifully written one that innovatively connects labor and working-class history to the history of sexuality, conservatism, capitalism, and the Sunbelt. LAWCHA heartily congratulates Joshua Hollands."

LAWCHA encourages the study of working people, their lives, workplaces, communities, organizations, cultures, activism, and societal contexts. It aims to promote a diverse and cross-cultural understanding of labor and working-class history. And it encourages innovative, theoretically-informed and interdisciplinary approaches. Transnational and comparative studies rooted in U.S. history are welcomed, as are studies of capitalism in relation to the working-class experience. Learn more about LAWCHA here.

The dissertation prize is named in honor of the late Herbert G. Gutman, a pioneering labor historian and a founder of the University of Illinois Press’s Working Class in American History Series. LAWCHA hopes that the spirit of Gutman’s inquiry into the many facets of labor and working-class history will live on through this prize. Learn more about the Herbert G. Gutman Prize here.

Dr Josh Hollands
Dr Josh Hollands

Josh is a Lecturer (Teaching) in United States History at Institute of the Americas, University College London. He is a historian of the modern United States with particular focus on sexuality, political economy, and social movements. He received his BA in American Studies from the University of Hull in 2014. He joined UCL Institute of the Americas first as an MA student in US Studies, and later as a PhD student where his research was supported by a Wolfson Foundation Scholarship in the Humanities. Josh completed his PhD in 2019, under the supervision of Professor Jonathan Bell and Dr Nick Witham. The title of his dissertation is 'Work and Sexuality in the Sunbelt: Homophobic Workplace Discrimination in the U.S. South and Southwest, 1970 to the Present'.