Labor History

Labor History for the 21st Century in a Global Perspective

Research initiative, Department of History, CEU

The History Department at CEU pursues a cluster of activities around the theme of labor history from the early modern period to the end of the 20th century, with a special emphasis on Central, Southeastern and Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean and on comparative approaches beyond the region. The aim is threefold: to stimulate research and offer expertise in a field which has been greatly neglected in recent decades; to integrate the study of the history of labor in these regions into the transnational history of labor worldwide; and to contribute to and interact with the ongoing scholarly debate on the conceptual framings of trans-European and global labor history.

Activities so far:

  • For the academic year 2017-2018, the course in labor history, entitled "Labor History: Global Trajectories, East European and Eurasian Dynamics," will be taught by CEU graduate Dr. Adrian Grama in fall 2017.  The one-year postdoctoral fellowship in labor history, funded by the project “Laboring Lives: The Experience of Work in Eastern Europe” in the CEU Humanities Initiative, has been awarded to Dr. Goran Musić. 
  • For the winter term 2017 we have organized the public lecture series, European Labor History in Global Context which is connected to the MA course, ”European Labor History in Global Context form the 18th Century to the Present”, taught by professor Marsha Siefert, and which is financially supported by a grant from the CEU Humanities Initiative, “Laboring Lives: The Experience of Work in Eastern Europe.”

  • Our project “Laboring Lives: The Experience of Work in Eastern Europe” has been awarded a grant from the CEU Humanities Initiative. Funding includes support for a one-year post-doctoral position at CEU’s History Department, for two lecture series in Winter 2016 and Winter 2017, and for work  associated with the co-edited volume, Labor in State Socialist Europe after 1945: Contributions to Global Labor History.

  • Our proposal for a Special Session on “Labour History as a field: where do we stand?” for the European Social Science History Conference, Valencia, 30 March - 2 April 2016, has been accepted. The session is entitled Still the Darker Half of the Continent: Writing the History of Labour in Eastern Europe, 1945-2015.
  • We have co-operated in initiating the research project "Women and Trade Unions in Europe, 19th to 21st centuries" (WATU). We are still looking for two core-contributors (for Austria and Czechoslovakia respectively), and we hope to establish many collaborations.
  • For the winter terms 2015 and 2016 we have (co-)organized public lecture series on European Labor History in Global Context (2015) and Studying Labor in the 21st Century. These series are connected to MA courses on 21 century approaches to Labor History taught by Marsha Siefert and Susan Zimmermann.
  • We  co-organized and hosted the third workshop of the Research Network on "Women, Work and Value in Europe, 1945-2015" (Principal investigator: Josie McLellan, University of Bristol), sponsored by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (UK) in Budapest, 6 to 8 March 2015. The workshop is entitled The politics of gender, work, and value.
  • We organized, in co-operation with Gijs Kessler (International Institute for Social History, IISH, Amsterdam), one roundtable entitled “Bringing Eastern Europe into Global Labour History” and three panels – entitled “The Transformation of Labour under State Socialism”, “Labor Relations, Recruitment and Risk in Eastern Europe”, and “Rural Labour Strategies in Industrialising Eastern Europe: Migration and Alternatives” respectively – for the European Social Science History Conference which took place in Vienna, 23 to 26 April 2014.
  • In cooperation with the Historical Doctoral Program of the Institute of History, Eszterházy Károly College, Eger, and the ELHN Working Group on Labour and State Socialism we have organized a workshop “Worlds of Labour. Reassessing Social Change in Twentieth Century Eastern Europe” during which PhD students from the Eszterházy Károly College and from CEU presented and discussed their work in progress. The workshop was held at CEU on 9 April 2014.
  • We have assisted the formation of the Working Group “Labour and State Socialism”, involving at its core PhD students from CEU, within the newly formed European Network of Labour History (ELHN). The ELHN, established in October 2013, brings together scholars and professionals from many European countries and beyond, who are involved with labour history archives, journals and research institutions, and come from a variety of universities. The first Conference of the ELHN was held in Turin, 14-16 December 2015.
  • We have participated in 2013 in the launch of, and contribute to, a book Series “Labor and the Production of Value. Transdisciplinary Studies for the 21st Century” with CEU Press.
  • We have helped with the preparation for the 44th Annual Conference of the International Association of Labour History Institutions (IALHI) “Opening Up Social History Repositories: New Technologies and New Methods”, organized by the Open Society Archives. The conference was held from 26 to 28 September 2013 at the Central European University.
  • We have organized a workshop “Labor and State Socialism in East Central Europe ” during which PhD students from different departments at CEU presented, and discussed with international scholars, their work in progress. The workshop was held at CEU on 2 and 3 November 2012.

Contact: Marsha Siefert siefertm@ceu.edu, Susan Zimmermann zimmerma@ceu.edu