The transnational turn has introduced significant new perspectives on the history of labor and capitalism in the United States. While the state remains an important object of analysis, decentering the nation in labor history provides additional lenses that focus on circulations, interactions, and connections below or beyond the nation-state. According to Ian Tyrell, they focus attention on exchanges across national boundaries, the impact of asymmetrical power exerted by one nation, and networks of relations not contained by nation-states. In questioning a coherent, all-encompassing national narrative, the voices and visions of people and groups who have been marginalized in the context of a nationalist myopia are reclaimed. The experiences of non-citizens and migrants, labor sojourners and “birds of passage,” inhabitants of border regions, workers of international corporations, and new digital and remote workers help provide a more complete and more complex picture of what both labor and capital have meant in various historical contexts. Negotiations of labor rights, property rights, the rights of capital or corporate personship from the emergent nation-state to globalization accounts for different appraisals of labor heroes or radicals, benevolent tycoons or robber barons. Historians such as Kiran Klaus Patel, for example, root the history of the New Deal in a global context, connecting the history of labor and capital to that of U.S. hegemony in the twentieth century. Others, such as Julie Greene, connect the immigrant experience with American empire. Likewise, Donna Gabaccia focuses on the migration world of Italian workers, and Mae Ngai traces the role of “impossible” illegal immigrant workers in the making of America.
This conference seeks to put into communication various strands of the recent historiography in labor history. To this end, we invite both individual papers and panel proposals on topics including:
● the changing world of labor (industrialization, urbanization, post-industrialization, digitalization, etc.)
● labor strife
● labor and gender
● labor, race, ethnicity, and migration
● internationalization of labor markets
● working class culture and solidarity
● changing forms of employment (small-self-employed farmers to employees and factory workers, to the new gig-economy)
● labor and space (from home-production and small workshops, to industrial spaces, the open plan office, and call centers, to post-industrial coworking spaces, creative office playrooms, and work from home setups)
● labor in different geographical contexts
● the contemporary role and perception of capital and capitalists during a given historical era
Please send short CVs and abstracts for individual papers of no longer than 500 words and in the case of a panel proposal an additional introduction of no longer than 300 words to the organizers until November 30, 2021 at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org
We encourage applications from scholars at all career levels. We invite doctoral students whose research is not related to the conference topic to join our virtual poster presentation. Please refer to the corresponding call for more information.
The DGfA conference will take place February 11–12, 2022, virtually via Zoom and Gather and, hopefully, with an in-person option at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany. All presentations will take place online via Zoom. If the pandemic situation improves, we will offer you the opportunity to come to Mainz and live-stream your presentation from our conference venue. In this case, we will provide information on accommodations and other material to help you organize your stay in Mainz.
Up to date information on the conference, including this call for papers, can always be found at:
We are looking forward to receiving your paper proposal.