CfP: Atlantic Crossings: Forms of Temporary Labour Migration around 1900

Call for papers, deadline 15 May 2023

International Workshop, Bern University, 19.–20. October 2023

The purpose of this workshop is to promote the study of temporary transatlantic migrations in a global historical perspective. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, a large number of people crossed the Atlantic, in search of better working conditions, economic opportunities, or as a stage in their professional careers. Labour migration encompassed a multitude of actors and trajectories: Seasonal workers from Bukovina working in Argentinian fields, Afro-Caribbean colonial officials assigned to French West Africa, or Levantine traders moving within transcontinental trade networks, to name just a few. 

Although the Atlantic is one of the best researched places for large-distance mobility, less attention has been paid to forms and structures of temporary labour migration in the period addressed by this workshop: When global markets became increasingly interlocked, telegraphs condensed the Atlantic space, and steamships enabled repeated crossings. Instead of understanding transatlantic movements as unilinear and permanent replacements, we aim to explore the migratory experience in the  Atlantic as an unstable and temporary one. 

This workshop puts migrants, both women and men, as highly mobile actors at the centre stage, asking for the social and economic dimensions of their mobilities. It calls on researchers to focus on the multiple transatlantic movements and temporary stays of migrants in the Americas around 1900. We aim to highlight temporalities of labour migration across (post-)imperial spaces, national borders, and linguistic barriers – within the Atlantic world.

Bringing together scholars, including early career researchers, we intend to establish a dialogue between historians from different fields and backgrounds. Opening the debate on temporary labour migration across the Atlantic, we re-address the claims of the Age of Mass Migration, by focusing on various forms of transatlantic movement and actors from different sites. We call for contributions dealing with different types of sources, and we particularly welcome papers that adopt an interdisciplinary approach in studying transatlantic migration.

Possible contributions include:

• Patterns of temporary labour migration from and to the Americas

• Transit stages en route and migratory infrastructure in Atlantic societies or port cities

• Trajectories, biographies, and experiences of transatlantic migrants who decided to return

• Diasporic connections across the Atlantic

• Conceptual history of Atlantic migration

Discussions at the workshop will be based on pre-circulated papers, therefore, we kindly ask to send us your paper scripts / draft versions of max. 2.000 words by September 30, 2023.

Please submit a summary of no more than 200 words and a brief CV in English in one PDF via e-mail by May 15, 2023, to one of the three organisers of the workshop:

Agnes Gehbald (,

Philipp Horn (,

Rea Vogt (

All travel and accommodation expenses will be covered.