Proceedings of the founding meeting of Labnet, Amsterdam, 18
Present were at the founding conference Logie Barrow, John
Belchem, Catherine Bensadek, Lars Berggren, Duccio Bigazzi, Aad
Blok, Michel Dreyfus, Bernd Florath, Rainer Noltenius, Karl
Christian Fuehrer, Wis Geysen, Geert Van Goethem, Jose Gotovitch,
Martin Grass, Mats Greiff, Bruno Groppo, John Halstead, Lex
Heerma van Voss, Paul Henderson, Uffe Jakobsen, Hans Ulrich Jost,
Fritz Keller, Ad Knotter, Sandrine Kott, Ursula Langkau-Alex,
Jin-Mo Lee, Marco van Leeuwen, Marcel van der Linden, Wolfgang
Maderthaner, Siegfried Mattl, Lars Olsson, Patrick Pasture, Talja
Potters, Antoine Prost, Mike Savage, Michael Schneider, Peter
Scholliers, Haia Shpayer-Makov, Angel Smith, Simonetta Soldani,
Wouter Steenhaut, Brigitte Studer, Klaus Tenfelde, Paule
Verbruggen, Martine Vermandere, David De Vries, Klaus Weinhauer,
Serge Wolikow, Eileen Yeo
1. Structure and activities of Labnet
The meeting decided to found Labnet as an organisation of
individuals. The primary aim of the network is exchanging
information. The structure of Labnet will be as light as
possible. In the future, when the exchange of electronic
information has become even more common than today, one can
imagine Labnet functioning exclusively through electronic mail.
For the time being, it was decided to adopt the well-known
structure of an association, including a paper newsletter and
real general meetings.
Electronic discussion group
After some clarification of the working of a discussion list, the
meeting established an electronic discussion list. Through the
list members may exchange information, review books and discuss
developments in the field through e-mail. The offer of the IISH
to provide the technical support and the moderators was accepted.
Publication of a Newsletter
The meeting decided to publish regular newsletters on paper,
which contain a selection of the information circulated through
the electronic Labnet List. The frequency and size of this
newsletter will depend on the amount of news circulating in the
electronic network. In time, it may become unnecessary to publish
on paper, when virtually all members are able to receive
electronic mail. The IISH offered to produce and circulate the
Newsletter free of charge, provided that the Institute may
combine this newsletter with other newsletters it may wish to
publish and provided that it is left to the Institute to decide
whether to distribute the paper Newsletter among all members or
only among those who do not subscribe to the List. This offer was
accepted by the meeting.
Register of current research interests
It was debated whether it is feasible to publish registers of
current research interests of the members of the network and
other occasional publications which can be of service to the
members. Geert Van Goethem suggested to co-operate with IALHI in
this field. Antoine Prost and others stressed that Labnet should
be a network of individuals and thought co-operation with IALHI
therefore a less than obvious choice. It was decided to leave the
choice to start this activity to the Executive Committee.
Participation in European Social Science History Conference
The meeting decided to participate in the bi-annual European
Social Science History Conferences as the network on Labour of
this conference. The first ESSHC was organised in 1996. The IISH
will host the second conference in 1998, in Amsterdam. The
conference will thereafter be organised by different scholarly
institutions, and thus will travel over Europe. In principle all
topics which are currently engaging scholarly debate can and
should be discussed in sessions of this conference. Therefore,
participation in this conference offers the Labnet members a
place for scholarly debate and the network a pre-structured
activity, which will cost little organisational preparation.
Organisation of Labnet conferences
The meeting decided to organise special Labnet conferences. These
will be more thematically focused than the Labour network at the
ESSHC. There is no limit to these, and proposals are very
A proposal to organise a conference on migration, social mobility
and the labour movement as competing living strategies for
European workers, ca. 1850 - 2000 was debated. Ad Knotter
proposed to broaden the theme to The Life Course Perspective in
Labour History. Simonetta Soldani and Lex Heerma van Voss argued
against broadening the theme, to focus discussions as much as
possible. Talja Potter and Antoine Prost argued for a relatively
small conference. The proposal for the conference on the three
living strategies was adopted.
As themes for future conferences were proposed:
- Labour and the emergence of the European Union (Klaus
- Labour and new social movements (Klaus Tenfelde)
- The use of labour history (Mats Greiff, Angel Smith)
- Representations of labour (image and reality, film,
literature) (Haia Shpayer-Makov)
- Labour and democracy (Antoine Prost).
Klaus Tenfelde suggested choosing some post-1945 themes. The
preparation of future conferences was left to the Executive
A possible task for Labnet, suggested by Klaus Tenfelde and Mike
Newman, is the organisation of an international exchange of
students and the development of an international curriculum in
Labour History. It was decided that the Executive Committee
should contact Tenfelde and Newman to see how this aim could be
Talja Potter reported on the presentation of new Ph-D projects
to a group of professors at a special session during larger
conferences as practised in the Social Sciences. She suggested
that Labnet should introduce such sessions at future European
Social Science History Conferences.
2. Adoption of the Constitution of Labnet
Marcel van der Linden corrected a typing error in article 2.
Otherwise the Constitution was adopted unchanged, as reproduced
with these proceedings. The date of General meetings was debated.
There was some preference for meeting at the ESSHC, when there
will be an interesting programme for most members, but in the end
it was left to the Executive Committee whether to have special
general meetings of Labnet, or to meet at the ESSHC, at other
3. Election of first Executive Committee
Elected were Geert Van Goethem, Lex Heerma van Voss, Marcel van
der Linden, Lars Olsson, Simonetta Soldani, Brigitte Studer and
Eileen Yeo. The Executive Committee will try to complete itself
with a member from Eastern Europe. The Executive Committee was
charged with drawing up a table of rotation for the Committee
4. Proposal not to ask a membership fee for the time being
As it is not clear that Labnet will run into high costs, as the
IISH is willing to pay the running costs of the secretariat for
the time being and as it is both bothersome and unusual to ask
a fee for the membership of an electronic network, it was decided
not to ask a fee for the membership of Labnet. If there is a need
for a membership fee in the future, the Constitution enables the
Executive Committee and the General Meeting to determine a
5. Other business
Marcel van der Linden reported on the recently founded Labour
History Association in India and on the plan of the Australian
Society for the Study of Labour History to set up, together with
the Indian colleagues and other scholars in Asia, an Asia-Pacific
Labour History Network, and on the discussion on H-Labor about
the possible foundation of an North American Labour History
Association. Thus the possibility arises of several interlocking
networks, which might lead to comparative work on a global scale.
Ad Knotter urged publication of the papers presented at the
conference, a proposal which was seconded by several
participants. Lex Heerma van Voss promised that the Executive
would further publication. Haia Shpayer-Makov thanked the
organisers of the Conference on behalf of all participants.
Constitution of Labnet,
the European Labour History Network
1. The title of the association shall be `Labnet - European
Labour History Network'.
2. The object of the association is to further the study of
labour history in Europe. The association regards as Labour
history the history of the working classes, including, but
not limited to their organisations.
3. Membership is open to all who wish to support the object of
the association and who pay the membership fee. The
membership fee shall be determined from time to time by the
Executive Committee and agreed by the General Meeting. The
General Meeting can decide that the membership is free.
4. The Executive Council of the association shall consist of
a Chairperson, secretary and treasurer and as many more
persons as the General Meeting shall see fit to elect.
5. It shall be the duty of the Executive Council to carry out
the instructions of the General Meeting to the best of its
ability. Between General Meetings the Executive Council
shall have authority to act on behalf of the association
and initiate action which it considers to be in the
interests of the association. It shall also have power to
co-opt members. It shall further have power to constitute
sub-committees for specific purposes.
6. The members of the Executive Council shall be elected at
the General Meeting. Any member can nominate candidates
before or during the General Meeting. The names of
candidates proposed by the Executive Council or by one or
more members at least three months before the General
Meeting shall be made known to the members with the
invitation for the General Meeting. All persons nominated
must give the secretary written or verbal assurances of
readiness to stand for office.
7. There shall be a General Meeting held normally in
conjunction with the bi-annual meeting of the association.
The association shall notify all members in writing in
advance of the time and place of the General Meeting, and
shall include a copy of the Agenda and of any proposed
Amendments to the Constitution. All members shall have the
right to attend and vote.
8. The association may be dissolved by a resolution passed by
a two-thirds majority of those present and voting at an
Extraordinary General Meeting convened for the purpose for
which 60 days notice shall have been given to members. Such
resolution shall give instructions for the disposal of any
assets held by or in the name of the association.
9. The Executive Council may consult the membership by post or
electronic mail in between General Meetings.
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