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“Global Labor History and the Question of Freedom and Unfreedom” To be held in Berlin, December 14-16, 2006. The conference is funded by the State of Berlin Senate’s Office for Science, Research, and Culture and will be realized by the joint cooperation between the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin and the Wissenschaftszentrum für Sozialforschung Berlin (WZB) under the direction of Professor Jürgen Kocka (WZB) and Professor Andreas Eckert (Universität Hamburg).

After two conferences in 2005 and 2006 focused on the concept of global labor history in general and on global labor and the nation state respectively, this follow-up conference will examine the field of free/unfree labor from multiple transregional and transcultural perspectives. Again, the conference aims at bringing together younger and senior scholars who relate their work to the field of global labor history.

One of the main tasks of global labor history is to concern itself with informal and unfree labor, since gainful employment and wage labor in the global context is increasingly less important. Child, women, and casual labor now determine the international work market. For example, workers in the field of ship breaking, mine work, and weaving, are far removed from any "Homo Oeconomicus.” Their work does not find any adequate category in the approaches circulating today – even though unfree laborers too are political players who position themselves in their respective societies. The concept of unfree labor is based on the idea of immobility and personal dependence which limit the freedom of the individual. This principle establishes itself even in western urban centers, in that wage labor and gainful employment change, and people bond when there is a limitation of the property rights in a situation of dependence.

In this regard, the study of supranational regulations or multi-national guidelines on the global market, which influence the political economic development and point out the importance of human rights and anti-discrimination laws in the field of global labor history, are likewise important topics to discuss.

We particularly welcome proposals with a historical focus and an emphasis placed on the interaction between non-European societies, Europe, and the United States, as well as on the interactions between non-European societies. With regard to methodical approaches, local studies, comparisons, and the study of interconnectivities/ entanglements should be prioritized.


Candidates should work in the disciplines of history, anthropology, law, sociology, political sciences, as well as area studies. Applicants should be at the doctoral or postdoctoral level. Ph.D. holders should have received their doctorate in the last five years. Proposed projects should employ a historical as well as a transregional perspective.

Travel expenses and costs incurred during the stay in Berlin will be covered.

Application procedure:

To apply, please send the following documents in English:

1. A curriculum vitae

2. A brief statement of up to 500 words about current research relevant to the conference’s theme

3. The names and addresses (incl. e-mail) of two referees

Application deadline: September 17, 2006

Candidates will be informed presumably by the end of September whether they have been accepted. Participants will be asked to submit the full paper (10,000 words) in English by November 1 to be distributed to the other participants. The detailed program will be announced mid-October.

Please send your application, preferably via email, to:

Dr. Felicitas Hentschke

Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin

Wallotstraße 19

14193 Berlin, Germany


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