Workers' Struggles in the Arab World

CFP: a workshop in Florence, March 2009

Dear Colleagues,

We would like to invite you to submit abstracts on 'Workers' Struggles and Nationalist Movements in the Arab World, 1900-present' by 1 September 2008.

We are directing a workshop on this theme at the Tenth Mediterranean Research Meeting which will take place near Florence (Italy) on 25 -28 March 2009.

You will find the abstract below:

Workers' movements present a problematic when considered internationally, as their context has been defined by national liberation in the Middle East and across North Africa. When workers carried out strikes in colonized areas, sustained agitation against the managers of the enterprises that hired them meant indigenous workers'struggles for better wages, safer working conditions, and more secure contracts were seldom simply for their own well-being. Migrant workers'protests also fueled larger national liberation movements by defining inclusive national communities and articulating progressive directions for such communities.

So how do we assess the significance of the strikes that took place outside what have now become postcolonial states? Calling for acknowledgement of the colonial-era split (both in the theoretical realm of law and the practical realm of political institutions) between metropolitan and indigenous workers, and recognizing that the movement's history exceeds both institutional histories of labor unions and political parties, this workshop addresses labor and affiliated issues both in a comparative framework and transnationally.

Since transfers of populations--whether for labor, military service, settlement, or in response to induced environmental disasters--characterized colonialism, many Arabs from colonized parts of West Asia and North Africa worked as émigrés in the various métropoles.We propose to address the link between labor and national liberation bridging across the national histories that have fragmented common aspects of modern Arab experience. Furthermore, we seek to address labor and nation with the inclusiveness of new social movements, since workers developed strategic alliances with other organizations and political interests (whether miners from Algeria, dock workers in Aden, or Palestinian factory workers) to strengthen and broaden collective consciousness across gender and class.

A detailed workshop description (and instructions for submission) is available at:


Nadji Khaoua [mailto][/mailto]