CfP: Labouring Lives and Political Protest Across and Beyond the Nordic Countries

Call for papers, deadline October-November 2019

Call for Papers:

Nordic Labour History Conference, The Workers Museum, Copenhagen, November 26-29, 2020

Nordic Labour Film Festival, Cinemateket, Copenhagen, November 25-29, 2020


Deadlines for submissions and notifications:

• Session proposals: October 1, 2019

• Individual papers: November 15, 2019

• Film proposals: August 15, 2020

• Notification of whether your session proposal have been accepted: December 1, 2019

• Notification of whether your individual paper proposal have been accepted: February 1, 2020

• Notification of whether your film proposal has been accepted: September 15, 2020

• Submission of full papers: September 15, 2020

• Submission of final cut films: November 1, 2020


Nordic labour history conferences have been organized by the labour history institutes of the Nordic countries since 1974. The last conference took place in Reykjavík, Iceland, in 2016 and the participation and variety of sessions and papers illustrated the renewed interest in labour history in the Nordic countries. The conference led to the founding of Nordic Labour History Network and a more systematic cross-nordic cooperation, showing that the field is vivid and growing.

The next Nordic Labour History Conference – taking place at the Workers’ Museum (Arbejdermuseet) in Copenhagen, November 26-29, 2020 – will continue the efforts from Reykjavík of expanding the field with new approaches to what can be interrogated as labour history: What counts as labour, where does labour take place and under what conditions, who constitute the working class and indeed ‘the worker’, what can be recognized as labour organizing and workers’ associations.

The title of the conference – Labouring Lives and Political Protest Across and Beyond the Nordic Countries – is meant to encourage this expansion of approaches by pointing to the specificities of labour as such, of labour organizing, of workers’ associations and parties, of collective bargaining practices and traditions, of the lived lives of workers, of convergences of and segregations between workplace and home, labour and free time, of various forms of political protest, activism and dissidence, as well as the spatial and temporal geographies of labour within, but not limited to a Nordic context. Labour and workers travel beyond sectoral and national borders and thus labour history inquiries must travel too.

The Nordic Labour History Conference 2020 (NLHC2020) encourages contributions from both established and emerging fields of study within labour history. Throughout the NLHC2020 the following tracks will be recurring (further description of each track is provided in the last part of the CfP):

➢ Feminist Labour History
➢ Precarious Work Historicized
➢ Free/Unfree Labour
➢ History of Fascism and Anti-Fascism
➢ Communist lives
➢ Histories of Migrant and Itinerant Labour
➢ History of Collective Bargaining
➢ De-industrialization
➢ Vagrant and Entrepenuerial Labour
➢ Political Activism Post 1945

Papers and session proposals within the recurring tracks will be reviewed by the conference organizing team in collaboration with the researcher(team) responsible for each track (contact info below). Papers and session proposals outside the tracks are also welcomed and will be reviewed by the organizing team.

Researchers proposing sessions – within or outside the tracks – are encouraged to collaborate and exchange well in advance to ensure coherent sessions. Each session should include contributions from at least three Nordic countries. Individual papers accepted for the conference will be paired in sessions with attention to both topic and cross-nordic exchange.

Along with the tracks, we are also organizing three special sessions for which papers can be proposed: One on de-industrialization processes; one on maritime-, dock-, and shipyard labour; and one on collective and individual life histories as entries to labor history (see further descriptions of the special sessions in the last part of the CfP).

Among the confirmed keynote speakers at the NLHC2020 is Professor Donatella della Porta, who will be giving a talk on political protest, social movements, and the politics of collective memory. Donatella della Porta is Dean of the Department of Political and Social Sciences as well as Director of Centre of Social Movements Studies (Cosmos) and Director of the PhD Program in Political Science and Sociology at Scuola Normale Superiore in Florence. 

Also as keynote, History Professor at University of Manchester, Kevin Morgan –founding editor of Twentieth Century Communism: a journal of international twentieth century history and secretary of the Working Class Movement Library – will be talking about labor biographies and transnational communist studies.

Furthermore, Hull Professor at University of California, Santa Barbara, and President of the International Federation for Research in Women’s History (2015-2020), Eileen Boris, will give a public talk about the history of the International Labour Organization, reviewing the research that came out of the 1919-2019 centennial as well as discuss centennials as a battleground of historical memory.

The main language of the conference is English, but proposals of sessions and papers in the Nordic languages are also welcomed. 

Nordic Labour Film Festival

The NLHC will be paralleled by Nordic Labour Film Festival (NLFF). NLFF is part of a global movement of labour film festivals and is organized by the collective RåFILM in collaboration with trade unions. If you wish to propose a film for the NLFF (your own or others), please contact the NLHC2020 organizing team ( and coordinator Talat Bhat ( with the subject “NLFF”.

Book and journal receptions and -market

The conference program will include receptions for new publications within the field of labour history as well as host a book and journal market. If you – as individual, journal or publishing house – wish to launch or sell books or journals during the conference, please contact the organizing team with the subject “Books and journals”. If your proposal is a launch, the deadline for proposals is August 30, 2020.

Session and paper proposals, submission details

Session proposals must include a title and a short description of the session (max 800 characters excl. references), the titles of each paper, the names and short bios
(max 300 characters) of the presenters and the proposed commentator, including institutional affiliation if applicable, contact details of the session coordinator and the presenters, as well as the name of the track under which it is submitted. If it is not submitted under any track, please add up to five keywords.

Individual paper proposals must include a title, an abstract (max 800 characters excl. references), a short bio (max 300 characters) of the presenter incl. institutional affiliation if applicable, contact details of the presenter, as well as the name of the track under which it is submitted. If it is not submitted under any track, please add up to five keywords.

Scholars and researchers from universities, museums, archives, trade unions and other institutions and organizations, as well as independent scholars and researchers are encouraged to submit proposals. Students on post-graduate level (BA/Bachelor or above) are also encouraged to submit proposals.

Film proposals must include a short description (max 800 characters) of the film, the title of the film, the name of the director and script writer (as well as other contributors if relevant), the year, and a list of previous screenings if applicable. If the film would premiere at the NLFF2020, please note this specifically.


(See attached PDF for more information).