CfP: Military Labour History at the ELHN Conference, 2024

Call for papers, deadline 31 July 2023

This is a call for abstracts for the Military Labour History Working Group panels at the ELHN Conference, to be held at Uppsala University, Sweden, 11-13 June 2024. See the following link for further information on the conference: This will be a hybrid event.

Please send 300-word abstracts to the MLHWG coordinators by 31 July 2023. We will advise you of the outcome by the end of August.

At the ELHN 2024 Conference, the Military Labour History Working Group will have the following panel sessions:

  • Visual sources, material artefacts and military labour – how do we tell stories about military labour history with visual sources and artefacts, and what might they tell us that other text-based sources cannot?
  • Military labour in the early modern era – c. 1400-1800.
  • Recruiting military labour - for example, conscription, recruitment marketing campaigns, coercion. We now also have a joint panel with the Maritime Labour History Working Group on MILITARY AND MARITIME RECRUITMENT AND THE LABOUR MARKET – see more below.
  • Gendering military labour - for example, gendered division(s) of military labour.

Special joint panel with Maritime Labour History Working Group: Military and maritime recruitment and the labour market

The recruitment of men and women by armed forces (included the navies and air forces) in different countries at particular times has had varying effects on labour markets. When there is compulsory military service, or even an urgent large-scale voluntarism during times of war, a large segment of the population can be withdrawn from the labour market, often especially affecting the male population that can have corresponding effects on the employment of women. This affects the lives of recruits, families, and communities, the latter particularly including those that are conditioned by the imposition of strict and continuous forced recruitment systems. At the same time, conscription can reduce pressure on labour markets, significantly reducing the supply, and affect the professional careers of those who need to temporarily suspend their career progression. On the other hand, the period of military service may facilitate the learning of new useful skills that recruits can then take back into the labour market. These may have differing outcomes and impacts depending on class, gender, and identity.

Once forced military service ends, recruits may stay involved as reserves, which can limit an individual’s working conditions and labour autonomy. This was the case for the maritime industries (seafaring, fishing, shipbuilding, loading and unloading), where reserves were subjected to restrictions and threats to their freedom in hiring in other work or moving to another place.

Conversely, during times of peace or when there is no conscription, the military services may need to engage in the competitive labour market to attract new recruits. This includes attractive advertising across multiple media, emphasis on skills development, inclusion of education opportunities, and even the use of military merchandise. How such recruitment strategies have been approached has changed across time, for instance in gendered ways as more women have been encouraged to join the military services.

We therefore propose a panel of papers focused on the various dimensions of the relationship between military and maritime recruitment systems and labour markets. Comparative papers are especially encouraged, for instance comparing the situations in different countries or between services like the army and navy. We also welcome papers that discuss military service as labour by reflecting on the relationship between recruitment and the labour market, and on recruitment, intersectionality and the labour market. For more information see: This joint panel has a later deadline of 6 September.

Please send the following information to the WG coordinators:

  1. Your name and any institutional affiliation
  2. The name of the panel for which you are nominating your paper.
  3. The title of your presentation.
  4. An abstract of 300 words.
  5. Whether you intend to present in person or online.
  6. A short bio of up to 200 words and, optionally, a web or ORCID link.

Send your queries and abstracts to the Working Group Coordinators at by 31 July 2023.


Olli Siitonen, Jeongmin Kim, Alexandros Touloumtzidis and Christine de Matos