Two Calls for Papers: “Workers, the Nation-State and Beyond” and “Rethinking the Left”

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Below are abridged calls for papers that I received through H-Net, the Humanities and Social Sciences Listserv. I encourage readers to submit papers if these topics are of interest:

Call for Papers I: “Workers, the Nation-State, and Beyond: The Newberry Conference on Labor History Across the Americas”

Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas invites paper proposals for an international research conference, “Workers, the Nation-State, and Beyond: The Newberry Conference on Labor History Across the Americas,” to be held at Chicago’s Newberry Library on September 18-20, 2008, with co-sponsorship from the University of Illinois at Chicago, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Roosevelt University. Building upon Labor’s defined editorial aspirations, this will be a small invitation-only gathering of hemispheric scope that brings together some of the best of current and emerging labor history scholarship on workers, the state, and transnational labor activism and institutions. In doing so, we are especially interested in empirically and theoretically relevant work that contributes to a genuinely transnational and/or comparative history of the Americas.

Although the conference will be held in Chicago, the United States is not taken as the necessary starting point and frame of reference for the conference. Rather, we understand global processes, historically conceived, to be fundamental to labor’s history, be it capital and labor mobility, imperial and neo-imperial political economies, or the mobilization of labor internationally and/or across borders. Without slighting work on the U.S. and Canada, the conference will strive to integrate work on and from Latin America and the Caribbean, a region marked by a revival of organized labor, social movements, and the left that has gathered steam in recent years.

In planning the conference, we are especially eager to explore the promise of emerging transnational approaches that look at the way states and working-class people formed notions of citizenship, borders, politics, and class, race, and gender identities. The transnational also opens new avenues for understanding–over time and space–changes in the concepts, policies and practice of states, their interactions with each other and their populations, and the ways in which the popular classes resist, react, and use both the nation-state and the non-state entities to advance their interests. A transnational approach would see the movement of people, capital, state policies, ideologies, and cultures as constitutive of history and therefore central to the historical process that we study.

We would like to have paper titles and abstracts in hand no later than September 30, 2007, so that participants can be notified in time to apply for outside funding. Note, established scholars (i.e. post-first book) should signal an interest in a particular panel above; junior scholar (i.e. PhD students and pre-first book) applicants by contrast, need only address the relation of their work to the larger conference theme, while also identifying their advisor and stage of matriculation. Please send inquires, titles and abstracts to labor@uic.edu.

Call for Papers II: International Labor and Working-Class History (ILWCH), “Rethinking the Left”

Time and time again leftist activists and movements, confronted with unexpected contingencies, have responded by shifting ground, reframing issues in major ways, imagining new political and social possibilities, and experimenting with drastic new approaches to mobilizing masses. In some situations political defeat can lead to efforts to broaden political appeal while in others defeat only moves parties to internal struggles, reinforcing old convictions and leading to new isolation. Under what circumstances do labor and left-wing movement abandon long-held beliefs? Under what circumstances do they hold fast to rigid ideologies? For some movements, defeat indicates a dead end while for others it only marks a temporary setback in the inevitable road to victory. How can such different responses be explained? And success can prove as devastating as defeat. In 1906 in the U.K., against all expectation, a Liberal electoral landslide led to the enactment of nearly the entire Liberal social reform program. These reforms marked the beginning of the national welfare state but, in exhausting the store of Liberal reformist ideas, they also paved the way for the rise of the Labour Party. Why do some leftist movements build on their victories while others are threatened by them?

This issue of ILWCH focuses on the efforts of left-wing activists and movements to readjust to dramatic new circumstances, to adverse developments and sometimes even to successes. It welcomes papers from around the globe and from diverse historical era.

The deadline for paper proposals is October 15, 2007.

All submissions should indicate that they are for the “Rethinking the Left” special issue, and should be sent to:

ILWCH, c/o Peter Nekola, Managing Editor
New School for Social Research
80 Fifth Avenue, #519
New York, New York 10011
Email: ilwch@newschool.edu

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