WG Military Labour

Amsab-ISH FO.009966
Belgian soldiers relaxing, 1939


The aim of the ELHN Military Labour Working Group is to create opportunities for interaction and discussion between scholars who deal with military history from a labour history perspective.


We would like to discuss and stimulate research related to a broad range of themes and concepts in military labour history including but not limited to the following:

  • What is military labour?
  • How to identify military workers?
  • The pluri-activity character of military labour.
  • The intersections of class, gender, race, sexuality, etc. in military labour.
  • Worker recruitment methods (such as, labour market, coercion, volunteers).
  • Payment of workers (paid or unpaid labour, waged or piece work, and so on).
  • The inclusion (or not) in a military structure: are workers contextualized in a military structure or civil workers who were employed for the army?
  • The duration of the employment in the military field.
  • The consequences on civil life of the employment of the worker in the military field.
  • Free and unfree military labour: degrees, moments and areas of coercion.
  • Theoretical frameworks, concepts and methodologies in military labour history

 Given the novelty of this particular research area where scholars have only recently and occasionally dealt with it, we consider the last point of particular importance for the working group to engage with in the upcoming years.


The working group was created in 2015, during the first European Labour History Network (ELHN) conference, held in Turin between December 14 and 15. Since its creation the main focus has, in accordance with the aim of the working group, been to creating opportunities for interaction and discussion between scholars of military labour history. This has been carried out both within the ELHN (ELHN conferences and cooperation with other ELHN working groups) and outside (e.g. a session on gender & military labour at the Twelfth European Social Science History Conference, held in Belfast in 2018), as well as through social media (a Facebook group) and an e-mail list.


To join, please use the attached PDF form.

The coordinators of the Working Group are:

  • Giulio Ongaro (University of Milan – Bicocca)
  • Fia Sundevall (Stockholm University & the Swedish Labour Movement’s Archive & Library)

External links

[last updated 17 July 2018]