Susan Zimmermann

University Professor

Contact information

Vienna, Quellenstrasse 51
+43 1 252307111 x 2577

Susan Zimmermann’s research has been concerned with bringing to bear a critical perspective on the past and present of global inequalities and the unequal international division of labour, as they inform key themes in modern history and interdisciplinary studies. She is also interested in developing research perspectives that simultaneously inquire into and integrate the study of class, gender, and other categories of difference and unequal social relations.

ZARAH: Women’s labour activism in Eastern Europe and transnationally, from the age of empires to the late 20th century (ERC Advanced Grant, Grant agreement No. 833691; 2020-2025) In the ERC project ZARAH, Zimmermann studies the politics women trade unionists pursued in state-socialist Hungary within the National Association of Trade Unions as well as in national and local trade unions. Women trade unionists who aimed to combine progressive labour and gender policies often struggled with their ‘troubled’ position in highly masculinist organizational contexts. Being part of organizations that often privileged and contributed to the construction of a core working class, these women aimed to represent and promote the interests of marginalized and particularly exploited segments of the labor force. At the same time, trade unions often functioned as a means to control labor militancy and workers’ resistance. Zimmermann studies how women trade unionists in their activism on behalf of working women made use of and tried to expand or alter the space of action so variably construed.

In focusing on working women and trade union policies in different political and economic systems, Zimmermann aims to develop more inclusive and more reflective conceptualizations of labor history. The related studies link to her larger interest in women’s international labour activism within and addressing international organizations, including the International Labour Organization (ILO) and various international labour organizations.

Her monograph (in German) entitled Women’s Politics and Men’s Trade Unionism. International Gender Politics, IFTU Women Trade Unionists and the Workers' and Women’s Movements of the Interwar Period (Löcker Verlag, Vienna) was published in 2021. In 2024, she co-edited with S. Çağatay, A. Ghit, O. Gnydiuk, V. Helfert, I. Masheva, Zh. Popova, J. Tešija and E. Varsa, Through the Prism of Gender and Work. Women’s Labour Struggles in Central and Eastern Europe and Beyond, 19th and 20th Centuries (Brill, Leiden). In 2023, she co-edited with A. Ghit, V. Helfert, I. Masheva, Zh. Popova, J. Tešija and E. Varsa, a Special issue on Women’s Labour Activism in Central and Eastern Europe and Internationally in the Twentieth Century, Journal of Contemporary Central and Eastern Europe, vol. 31, no. 2. In 2022, she co-edited with E. Betti, L. Papastefanaki and M. Tolomelli, Women, Work, and Activism. Chapters of an Inclusive History of Labor in the Long Twentieth Century (CEU Press, Budapest and New York).

Fellowships and Awards

  • European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant “Women’s labour activism in Eastern Europe and transnationally, from the age of empires to the late 20th century (Acronym: ZARAH) 2020-2025
  • Fellowship at re:work, the International Research Center on Work and Human Life Cycle, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Academic Year 2016–2017
  • Hungarian Ministry for Culture: Pro Cultura Hungarica Memorial Award for non-Hungarian citizens for promoting and popularizing Hungarian culture abroad, and enriching the cultural relations between Hungary and other nations, 2005
  • Fellowship at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, Academic Year 2002–2003
  • Käthe Leichter Award 2000 for the study “Die bessere Hälfte? Frauenbewegungen und Frauenbestrebungen im Ungarn der Habsburger­monarchie 1848 bis 1918,” Vienna-Budapest 1999

 Professional Activities

  • Member, Advisory Board, Múltunk. Politikatörténeti Folyóirat [Our Past. Journal for Political History] (in Hungarian), since 2021
  • Chairperson, Academic Advisory Board, Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Studies (IOS), Regensburg, since 2020
  • Member, Board of the International Federation for Research into Women’s History, since 2015
  • Editor (together with E. Bartha, A. Grama, D. Kalb, and D. Ost) of the book Series “Work and Labor: Transdisciplinary Studies for the 21st Century,” CEU Press, since 2018
  • Associate Editor for Europe (focus Eastern Europe), Labor: Studies in Working-Class History (USA), since 2018
  • Member, Scientific Advisory Board, Arbeit – Bewegung – Geschichte. Zeitschrift für historische Studien, since 2018
  • Member, Editorial Board of International Advisers, Labour History (Australia), since 2018
  • President, International Conference of Labour and Social History (ITH), 2014-2022
  • Editor, “The Habsburg Empire, 1820–1918,” primary sources and secondary works, published in the database “Women and Social Movements in Modern Empires since 1820,” eds. Kathryn Kish Sklar and Thomas Dublin, 2015–2018

 CEU Doctoral Supervision

  • Anita Prsa (2021 -  )
  • Marta Baradic (2020 - )
  • Elisabeth Luif (2020 - ) (co-supervision with Constantin Iordachi)
  • Jelena Tesija (2020 - )
  • Experts in the bureau: private clerks and capitalism in the Late Habsburg Monarchy / Mátyás Erdélyi (2020) (co-supervision with Karl Hall)
  • Transition to capitalism in Croatia, Hungary and Austria (1830s to 1867/8): a study in uneven and combined development / Mladen Medved (2020)
  • Loving designs: gendered social reform and regulation in Interwar Bucharest (1918-1939) / Alexandra Ghit (2020)
  • The pre-historic Goddess of post-socialism: transnational biography and reception of Marija Gimbutas / Rasa Navickaite (2020)
  • The politics of gender and the making of Kemalist feminist activism in contemporary Turkey (1946-2011) / Selin Cagatay (2016)
  • White misrule: terror and political violence during Hungary's long World War I, 1919-1924 / Emily Rebecca Gioielli (2015)
  • The Hungarian pension system, 1948-1990: welfare and politics in a socialist country in its European context / Hanna Szemző (2013) (co-supervision with Judit Bodnár)
  • Tactics in between: gendered citizenship and everyday life of internally displaced men in Tarlabasi, Istanbul / Nil Mutluer (2012)
  • Gendered artistic positions and social voices: politics, cinema and the visual arts in state-socialist and post-socialist Hungary / Beáta Hock (2009)
  • Woman's question and women's movement among Ottoman Armenians 1875-1914 / Hasmik Khalapyan (2008)
  • Hungarian family law and the struggle for gender order: 1848-1913 / Anna Loutfi (2006)
  • Feminist ideologies and activism in Romania (approx. 1890s-1940s): nationalism and internationalism in Romanian projects for women's emancipation / Roxana Cheschebec (2005)
  • Restructuring and envisioning Bucharest: the socialist project in the context of Romanian planning for a capital a fast-changing city and an inherited urban space 1852-1989 / Raluca Maria Popa (2004)
  • Architecture cultural politics and national identity: Lemberg 1772-1918 entangling national histories / Markian Prokopovych (2004)
  • A history of Hungarian psychiatry 1850-1908 / Emese Lafferton (2003)
  • Family structures and strategies in post-emancipation Lithuania / Vilana Pilinkaite-Sotirovic (2002)



“Habilitation” Johannes Kepler Universität Linz (Austria) 2000.
“Habilitáció” Eötvös Loránd University Budapest (Hungary) 1999.
Ph.D., Universität Wien 1993.