Workers Across Africa: Global and Transnational Labour History and Labour Studies

Call for papers: deadline 16 January 2013

Call for papers: deadline 16 January 2013

ECAS 5 – Lisbon, 26-28 June 2013

Stefano Bellucci (International Institute of Social History) sbe [at]
William Freund (University of KwaZulu/Natal) william.m.freund [at]

Short Abstract

New developments in Africa labour studies and labour history are emerging in relation to subjects such as transnational studies and global history. The assumption is that labour relations, workers' life histories, and the analysis of production and exchange chains go beyond national borders.

Long Abstract

As post-colonial African studies emerged, labour studies played a major part owing to the salience of organised labour in anti-colonial and early post-colonial social struggles. The worker arrived to challenge the tribesman. However the economic conditions prevailing after the 1980s provoked disarray; labour historians were slow to respond to the conceptual challenges posed by globalisation. It is only by focussing on new developments, moving away from the concentration on organised workers and exploring less-covered aspects that new labour studies and labour history in Africa have emerged.
The panel organisers call for papers from a wide range of transnational scholarship on labour issues from purely historical to more contemporary themes. Although the historical perspective should be predominant, the panel convenors will consider papers from disciplines such as economics, geography, anthropology and sociology. The theme of the ECAS 2013 is "African Dynamics in a Multipolar World". Therefore papers should concentrate on case studies or general themes on labour issues but from a global and/or transnational perspective.
The history of labour is very rich with stories of direct and indirect connections between workers, sometimes disclosing solidary actions and other times unveiling competing interests. The convenors welcome also research studies on African working class histories, worker organisations and studies of the families of workers. Stories from the informal sector, from family and household labour and from modern forms of un-free labour or slavery are directly relevant to the panel's intentions.