Accueil >> Recherche >> Actualités >> Colloques - journées d'études


Thinking about labour within and across empires

le 8 novembre 2018
De 9h à 16h30

In the wake of the 2nd conference of the European Labour History Network (ELHN) at Nanterre (2-4 November 2017), and with the 3rd ELHN conference (Amsterdam, 19-21 September 2019) already in mind, the ELHN “Labour & Empire” working group is organising a one-day conference at Paris 3 – Sorbonne Nouvelle University.

affiche ELHN JE with CRECIB  sponsorship-page-001.jpg

Organisateur :
Yann Béliard

Labour history over the past decade has become more global in its outlook – a welcome mutation that has not made national, regional and local studies redundant, but has allowed historians to ask old questions from a different, broader angle and also to embrace new objects and new methodologies.

The history of the British and more generally of the European and “Western” working classes can no longer be explored without consideration of the transnational character of capitalist development and of the cosmopolitan dimension this gave to class formation. The benefits of a global approach are possibly even more evident in the study of labour in the Global South, be it in the age of empire or in the post-colonial era.

The trannational and global turn should not, however, flatten and homogenise the experience of labour – the risk being a privileging of connection and unity over divisions, of subaltern agency and co-operation over power relations, of movement and mobility over fixed hierarchies.

Our task as historians is therefore to tackle both the circulation of radical ideas within

and across empires, and the way States and employers tried to keep their migrant and diasporic workforce under control; both the cosmopolitan shapes of worker resistance and the racist, repressive practices imposed in the workplace and within certain territories to discourage collective action.



9.00    Welcome       Yann Béliard (Paris 3 – Sorbonne Nouvelle University) & Gareth Curless (University of Exeter)


9.15-10.15    Methods of labour control


9.15-9.35      Andreas Bolte (University of Freiburg, Germany): The temporalities of plantation labour in British Malaya and the Dutch East Indies in the early 20th century


9.35-9.55      Said Ennahid (Al Akhawayn University, Morocco): Labor and social action in colonial-period Morocco. The case of Muslim workers’ housing in Casablanca (1912-1956)


10.00-10.15  Discussion


10.15-10.45  coffee break


10.45-12.00  Transnational activism (part 1)


10.45-11.05  Gemma Jennings (University of Birmingham, UK): Solidarity in the struggle against colonialism, neo-colonialism and imperialism. Labour activism and the Algerian independence movement


11.05-11.25  Zachary Davis Cuyler (New York University, USA): 'A Better Life for Whom?' The labor history of Tapline in Lebanon


11.25-11.45  Geoff Brown (independent researcher): Pan Africanism and antiracist politics in Manchester, 1966-1969. A history ‘from below’


11.45-12.00  Discussion


12.00-13.00  Lunch



13.00-13.50  Transnational activism (part 2)


13.00-13.20  Steven Parfitt (Loughborough University, UK): The Knights of Labor and the imperial white working class


13.20-13.40  Lorenzo Costagusta (University of Birmingham, UK): The limits of working class internationalism. Socialism and Chinese immigration in the United States, 1876-1890


13.40-13.50  Discussion


13.50-14.40  Maritime labour (part 1)


13.50-14.10  Tristan Oestermann (Heinrich Heine University, Düsseldorf, Germany): Shipping “Boys”: German companies and the recruitment of Liberian migrant labourers for the West Coast of Africa, c. 1849-1914


14.10-14.30  Dina Khoury (George Washington University, Washington DC, USA): Documenting and regulating slaves and bonded laborers in the Persian Gulf


14.30-14.40  Discussion


14.40-15.10  Coffee break


15.10-16.00  Maritime labour (part 2): roundtable on India


15.10-15.15  Naina Manjrekar (University of London, UK): The mutiny that ended the empire. The Royal Indian Navy mutiny of 1946


15.15-15.30  Prerna Agarwal (University of Western Australia): For the red flag or in defence of Allah? The case of dockers’ unions, Calcutta, 1930s


15.30-15.45  Svenja von Jan (Göttingen University, Germany): Indian seafarers and Indian agency in the illegal economy of the dock neighbourhood


15.45-16.00  Discussion


16.00  Conclusions

Access to the conference is free. Please contact Yann Béliard ( and Gareth Curless ( if you wish to attend the event.

For information about the conference please check out the conference webpage:


For financial support the organisers wish to thank CREW (Centre for Research on the English-speaking World) as well as the Sorbonne Nouvelle's Research Commission.

Click here [PDF - 1 Mo] to download the full programme.

Type :
Colloque / Journée d'étude
Lieu(x) :
Maison de la Recherche - 4 rue des Irlandais - 75005 PARIS
Salle Claude Simon
Paris 3 – Sorbonne Nouvelle University
Maison de la recherche, 4 rue des Irlandais, 75005 Paris

mise à jour le 22 octobre 2018


Maison de la Recherche
de l'Université Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3
9h00 - Salle Claude Simon
4 rue des Irlandais - Paris 5ème

Métro / RER :

Ligne 7 : Place Monge
Ligne 10 : Cardinal Lemoine
RER B : Luxembourg

Plan d'accès

Call for papers