CfP: Feminist Labour History at the ELHN-WORCK Conference 2021

Call for papers, deadline 15 September 2020

The ELHN Feminist Labour History Working Group invites papers which address the following two large themes:

Working women in agriculture (19 to 21 centuries)

The role of women in the agricultural context has been crucial in the modern age in all parts of the world, but has often been neglected and disguised in scholarsip. Papers may address the various forms of work performed by women in the rural context, as well as their mobilization to obtain better working and living conditions, equal wages, the recognition of their legal status including the property of the land.The nexus between the productive and reproductive sphere could be a lens to read the transformations and continuities across centuries and different spatial contexts. The connection between women’s work in agriculture and political ideologies could be an additional vantage point from which to address the changing role and perception of female workers in 19th and 20th century societies. Rural women have played an important role in environmental movements in the 20th and 21st centuries. Mechanization needs to be studies from a gendered point of view, looking at the different impact on women’s work and men’s work. The feminization of agricultural work both in the Global North and South could be addressed, by investigating the changing gender relations as well as commodification of former subsistence-oriented work, and the developmentalist policies of international agencies such as the ILO have been characterized by a strong focus on women and agricultural labour.

Women workers as writers

Women belonging to the working classes have left myriad traces of their literary skills and passion for writing. Diaries, correspondence, memoirs have been the privileged yet not exclusive literary genres chosen by women workers. Papers could address the relationship between the biographies of women workers and their writing, by looking at their political and union commitments often embedded in the very same act of writing. Various forms of writing and the topics addressed could be taken into consideration in connection with political regimes, historical turning points, and specific workplace mobilizations. The memorial aims of working-class women’s writing could be addressed to investigate their contribution in creating a gendered narrative of labour and political struggles so as to historicize women’s subjective experience and unveil women’s presence in key mobilizations.

How to apply

Please send a 500-word abstract and a short academic CV (max 500 word) to the coordinators of the WG Eloisa Betti (University of Bologna,, Leda Papastefanaki (University of Ioannina, and Susan Zimmermann (Central European University,, by September 15, 2020. The proposal should include name, surname, current affiliation and contact details of the proponent. The subject of the email needs to be: “Feminist labour history_ELHN 2021”. If you have any further questions, do not hesitate to contact us.

Time and Location

The Fourth Conference of the European Labour History Network (ELHN) joint event of the European Labour History Network and the COST Action “Worlds of Related Coercions in Work” (WORCK), will take place, from 30 August to 3 September 2021, in Vienna, hosted by the Vienna University.

Attached document(s)