Reminder: Drivers of Change. Labour migrants from the Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey and social transformation in Western Europe, 1960-1990

Call for Papers, deadline 15 May 2024

Leuven, 26-27 September 2024

Ever since their arrival in the 1960s, labour migrants from the Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey have been drivers of change in Western European societies. Their labour was essential to Western Europe’s economic growth, while their presence rejuvenated the region’s aging demography. Simultaneously, their cultures prompted a wide array of new encounters, while their mobility was key to the transformations of Europe’s growing urban centres. Migrant communities furthermore introduced new knowledge, and their modes of religiosity added additional complexity to the position of religion in the public sphere. Finally, their precarious economic positions provoked new debates on the role of the welfare state, while their perceived ‘otherness’ challenged Eurocentric understandings of nationalisms, citizenship, social rights, and what it means to co-exist.

Historiography is starting to recognize the transformative power of labour migrants. However, scholars note that it remains challenging to fully integrate migrants’ pivotal roles into our fundamental comprehension of social, cultural, and political change in Western Europe. The histories of migrant communities are often written in parallel with, but largely distinct from, histories of globalization, nationalisms, democratization, social movements and activisms, changing religious landscapes, technological and scientific advances, environmental awareness, …

This workshop aims to merge these subfields and to integrate the history of post-war labour migration into a larger narrative. We welcome contributions of varied historical fields, such as urban history, decolonization studies, gender history, the history of emotions and knowledge, and the history of social movements, with a scope from 1960 to 1990. Interdisciplinary contributions from the fields of anthropology, religious studies, cultural and art studies, and social geography are also encouraged.

 Link to the full CfP

 Extended application deadline: 15th of May 2024

 Abstracts of ca. 350 words can be uploaded online or sent to by the 1st of May 2024.

 Accepted authors will be notified before the 1st of July 2024.

We ask them to provide a substantial working paper by the 1st of September 2024.


Stijn Carpentier

Doctoraal Onderzoeker
Onderzoeksgroep Moderniteit en Samenleving 1800-2000 (MoSa)


Onderzoekseenheid Geschiedenis

KU Leuven
Vlamingenstraat 39
3000 Leuven