September 2014 marked the 150th anniversary of the founding of the International Workingmen’s Association, or First International. Between 1864 and today, the cause, practice, and history of working-class internationalism has undergone many changes, and has appeared in a dizzying variety of forms all over the globe. Yet working-class internationalism has always been defined in terms of what at first appears to be its opposite, working-class nationalism. While some historians have regarded these concepts, and the ways in which they were practically embodied, as opposites and as mutually conflicting, others have found a more complex relationship between the two, and have instead considered class contrasts, gender relations, and racial conflicts. Similarly, workers and their organizations have often struggled to reconcile internationalism as a political commitment with notions of national belonging. This polar duality had been further complicated by perceptions of racial, ethnic, and gender identities.
This conference aims to explore the relationships between working-class nationalism and internationalism prior to 1945. The organisers invite papers on any aspect of this relationship or of these concepts from postgraduates, early career scholars, and those outside of full-time academia that have an interest in Labour/Trade Union History, Economic History, Politics, Political Theory, Race and Ethnicity Studies, and/or Gender Studies. The organisers look forward to papers that discuss European and American contexts, but we also warmly encourage papers that predate the creation of the First International, or go beyond European and American topics discussing Asian, African, and Oceanic situations.
Topics can include but do not need to be limited to:
– Cross-border trade union and socialist organizations;
– Local experiences of internationalist organizations;
– Workers’ attitudes to the First and/or Second World Wars;
– Colonialism and racism;
– Internationalist, nationalist and ethnic tensions within organizations;
– Independence struggles and socialism;
– International solidarity;
– Immigration policies in workers’ organizations, racial and ethnic prejudices amongst workers.
Postgraduates, early career historians and those outside of full-time academia are invited to submit proposals for papers (of about 20-30 minute’s length) by the 7th January 2015. Please e-mail abstracts of no more than 300 words firstname.lastname@example.org. Abstracts should include your name, institution and/or organization, email address, and the title of your proposed paper.
For more information on the conference follow us on Twitter (@wuniteconf2015) or consult our website: http://workersuniteconference2015.wordpress.com/
The conference is hosted by the Department of History and the Department of American and Canadian Studies, University of Nottingham, and supported by the Economic History Society.