WG Labour and Coercion

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Land workers in Ronse, s.d.

This Working Group was formerly known as "Free and Unfree Labour".


The links between coercion and labour are not only crucial to our understanding of historical societies, but also speak to ongoing developments in the contemporary global economy. The ELHN Working Group Labour and Coercion seeks to further the study of coerced labour by bringing together scholars who study all kind of labour relations with a focus on the aspects of coercion they entail – e.g. chattel slavery, wage labour, debt bondage, convict labour, indentured work, sharecropping, household labour, military impressment etc. By doing so, it becomes possible to address and conceptualise not only differences and commonalities between different types of labour, but also their connections throughout history.

Activities: WORCK

From October 2019 onwards, the working group will be part of the EU COST Action Worlds of Related Coercions in WorK (WORCK) for the coming four years. WORCK has resulted out of the activities of the ELHN Working Group Labour and Coercion. This EU funding means that the working group has the means to grow further, more actively connect interested scholars, and support a greater number of activities.

WORCK aims to further the research agenda developed in the Labour and Coercion working group. At its core, it has the mission to radically historicise labour coercion and to bring about a deeper understanding of how coercion has shaped lives and societies across time periods and geographic regions. For more information on WORCK, visit the website at http://www.worck.eu where you can read about the activities, like annual workshops and conference, and the four working groups:

  • WG1 – Grammars of Dependency
  • WG2 – Sites and Fields of Coercion
  • WG3 – (Im)Mobilisations of the Workforce
  • WG4 – Intersecting Marginalities

The link to the COST webpage is: https://worck.eu/


To join the COST Action WORCK, follow this link: https://www.worck.eu/contact/#registration.
Please use the email address think-tank@worck.eu to contact the coordinators of the working group Labour and Coercion:

  • Viola Müller
  • Fernando Mendiola

External links

Please find the list of PDF newsletters of the working group attached below.

[last updated 3 November 2023]