Labour, Politics and Safety. International Summer Academy, Maputo, Mozambique

Call for applications, deadline 29 May 2016

The international research centre Work and Human Lifecycle in Global History (re:work) at Humboldt-Universita t zu Berlin and the history department of the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane in Maputo will hold a Summer Academy exploring the historical and contemporary meanings and practices of work in relation to the politics of health, safety and security. The Summer Academy is open for doctoral students working in the field of work/labour from historical as well as other social science perspectives and will take place on the campus of the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane in Maputo, 26 September to 3 October 2016.

In many parts of the world, the development (and later decline) of colonial rule powerfully shaped the politics and conditions of health and safety at the work place. Workers’ health and well-being, as well as the associated politics, evolved in tandem with political regimes (and their unravelling) and economic practices. While the history of the International Labour Organisation reflects increasing attention to job security, safety and health insurance during the 20th century, these issues were closely linked to workers’ mobilisation as a distinct social class, especially if not exclusively in the industrialized global north. Yet in post-slavery, colonized and newly independent societies in Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Indian Ocean World, labour migrants, contract workers, women, children and youth fell outside the formally constituted class of workers, and rarely enjoyed the protection of laws governing work practices and conditions. The Summer Academy will focus on the ambiguities of labour laws on health, safety, security and well-being.

The Summer Academy shall focus methodologically on historical perspectives that investigate global interconnections and entanglements and/or employ methodologies of comparison. The critical reflection of general comparative notions such as “gender”, “class”, “race”, “ethnicity”, “labour/work” should be part of the individual projects presented at the Summer Academy.

We expect that the following aspects, among others, should be central to the projects and discussions:

  • Work practice and working conditions
  • Wellbeing and the workplace, especially concerning tuberculosis, silicosis, HIV, malaria, malnutrition and infant mortality
  • Labour migration
  • The ILO and labour rights
  • Day-to-day labour resistance and labour movement
  • Control of labour
  • Work in mines, industrial fishing and farming
  • Forced / coerced labour (both illegal and legal)
  • Slavery and the slave trade - Occupational security and international trade
  • Social security
  • Export of insecurities
  • Child labour / children’s work
  • Gender differences in labour experience
  • Generational differences in labour experience
  • Health and security in post-colonial and post-socialist societies

Moreover, the Summer Academy will also provide the venue for an in-depth discussion of methodological issues and sources. The Summer Academy will be led by renowned historians and social scientists from around the world.

The language of the Summer Academy will be English. Within its framework, selected participants will present their research (40 minutes) and comment on the project of a peer (20 minutes). Moreover, it is obligatory for all participants to submit an essay on a specific topic related to the Summer Academy’s theme as well as reflections on a set of specified key texts prior to the event.


To participate in the Summer Academy, doctoral students need to submit a brief outline of their current project (max. three pages) and a two-page essay on how their work relates to the themes of the Summer Academy, as well as how they can contribute to it. Proposed projects should assume a historical perspective and will be particularly pertinent if they give attention 3 to connections beyond the nation state and reflect upon the possibilities of connecting regional and systemic approaches. This does not exclude case studies set in broader regional or global context. Travel and accommodation costs of the selected participants will be covered by the organisers of the Summer Academy.

We welcome relevant applications from all parts of the globe. Candidates from Africa are particularly encouraged to apply. Please use the electronic form on our website:; we can ONLY accept electronically submitted applications!

The deadline for applications is 29 May 2016.