CfP: ELHN Working Group Labour and Empire at the ELHN-WORCK Conference 2021

Call for papers, deadline 27 September 2020

ELHN Labour & Empire Working Group

4th Congress of the European Labour History Network (ELHN), Vienna, 30 August-3 September 2021

Dear colleagues,

As it has been done since the first ELHN congress in Turin (2015), the ELHN Labour & Empire Working Group wishes to hold a couple of sessions at the congress that will be organised next year at Vienna University, this time in conjunction with the WORCK (Worlds of Related Coercions in Work) congress.

The coordinators welcome proposals for twenty-minute papers. Panels of three or four papers will be greeted with particular attention.

Potential topics include but are not limited to:

  • Labour law in colonial settings and its relation to labour law in the metropoles.
  • Patterns of work and control of the workforce – notably in agriculture, mining and transport.
  • Transnational / transimperial / transcolonial labour activism.
  • The interplay of anticolonial nationalism with trade-union, syndicalist, socialist or communist internationalism.
  • The part played by labour movements in decolonisation; how they challenged the authority of the colonial state but also of the post-colonial states.
  • Working-class views of or implication in colonial atrocities: genocide, partition, famine...

These issues can be considered in relation to the European empires as well as the contiguous empires of East Asia and the United States. The focus of the papers should be on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Events since our last gathering in Amsterdam – to name but a few: the Black Lives Matter movement, calls to “decolonise the curriculum”, the success of Akala’s Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire… – have served as reminders of the necessity to address the history of imperial exploitation and oppression to make sense of present-day issues and struggles.

We realise that we are leaving you hardly two weeks to send us your proposals and apologise for the short notice. Feel free to contact us if this is a problem for you, we will do our best to find a solution.

Proposals – including a title, a brief abstract and a short academic CV – should be submitted to Yann Beliard ( and Gareth Curless (
Feedback will be given in the following days.