Proposal for Special Issue of Labour History: Thinking Labour Rights through the ‘Coolie’ Question

EDITORS: Sophie Loy-Wilson and Diane Kirkby

This was the theme of a symposium sponsored by the Academy of the Social Sciences and held at the University of Sydney. Participants grappled with the question: How can the history of Asian indentured labour systems help us better understand contemporary debates over labour rights and labour migration?  We propose to publish some of the papers from the symposium in a special issue in Nov. 2017. Other contributions are invited. Papers will be considered that reflect more broadly on the implications of ‘the coolie question’ for transnational and global histories of labour rights as human rights and the relationship between slavery, indenture, labour and race-based exclusion. Abstracts should be sent to the editors at by 20th Feb., full papers to be submitted by 20th March.

Out Now: Labour History, no. 111 – November 2016

With this issue, we begin the next stage of Labour History’s life. A new editor and the support of Monash University means that from now on Melbourne will gradually become the site of editorial work. We have chosen to start with a special thematic connecting social movements, labour internationalism and the Cold War. This contains papers drawn from those presented at a symposium held at La Trobe University earlier this year. Other articles in this issue deal with occupations in little-known areas of the history of work. We have also continued our tradition of engaging in scholarly debate by publishing an article that analyses Connell and Irving’s classic study of class structure in Australian history. Click here for more information.

Other News

Redmond Barry Fellowship 2017

The fellowship is named in honour of Sir Redmond Barry (1813-1880). Up to $20,000 shall be awarded to assist with travel, living and research expenses. Fellows will be based at the State Library of Victoria for three to six months. During this period, Fellows will be expected to pursue their own project, present a lecture or short seminar series open to the public, Library and University communities, and submit a brief report at the conclusion of their Fellowship. Fellowships are open to scholars and writers from Australia and overseas. The Fellow’s project may be in any discipline or area in which the Library and the University have strong collections. Applications close Sunday 23 April 2017. For more information, click here.


What is Labour History, an inter-active panel discussion

2.30-3.30pm, 7th May 2017, Regent Room, Upstairs, Box Factory Regent Street, South Adelaide.

Panelists: Dr David Faber, Ralph Clarke & Dr Don Longo

Labour History is the story of every one of us who has ever held down or looked for a job, or joined an industrial or political labour organisation. It is the inclusive socio-economic and political story of all kinds of workers, the great bulk of the people who depend on wages, be they blue or white collar, of any race or ethnicity, sexuality or gender, and of the relations between employers and employees, of labour leaders and the rank and file. It is the study of the history of the 99%. Come and participate as labour history scholars discuss this fascinating sub-discipline of democratic historical enquiry. Contact: David Faber 8410 9796 or 0488 079 753


The 15th Biennial Labour History Conference

23–25 September 2017, will be held at Emmanuel College, University of Queensland. Academics and labour activists are invited to present papers around the conference theme, “Workers of the World,” and the broader agenda of labour history. Today, the Australian working class are workers of the world: in the sense that we are a predominantly immigrant working class (or the descendants of relatively recent immigrants); and in the sense that workers from so many of the world’s nations, languages and cultures have made their homes here. The year 2017 also marks the centenary of the Russian Revolution, which had such a profound impact on the labour movement in every country, not least as a result of its internationalism. Click here for more information.


Why History? A Call for Papers

The Association of Academic Historians in Australian and New Zealand Business Schools (AAHANZBS) will hold its 9th Annual Conference, 9–10 November 2017, The University of Sydney, Australia. You are invited to submit papers addressing the conference theme, including papers relating to accounting history, business history, economic history, labour history, management history, marketing history, tourism history, transport history and other areas of interest relating to historical research in business schools. We also invite papers/panel suggestions around teaching and pedagogy relating to business and labour history. Please submit either a 1000 word abstract or a 6,000 word maximum paper for refereeing by 16 June 2017 to Greg Patmore ( For the full Call for Papers, click here.


First Conference of the Global Labour History Network

Founded in Barcelona last year, the GLHN will have its first conference in March 2017 at the V.V. Giri National Labour Institute in Noida (near New Delhi), India. This event will enable participants to exchange information about their activities, research projects and publications; to prepare interregional projects and perhaps grant applications; and to discuss the GLHN’s future. Those wishing to attend should contact Marcel van der Linden ( as soon as possible because there are facilities only for about 40 participants and it would be optimal if they are evenly distributed across regions.


Scales of Struggle: Communities, Movements, and Global Connections.

LAWCHA conference 23–25 June 2017, University of Washington, Seattle. The Labor and Working Class History Association welcomes individual and session proposals that address the broad theme of “Scales of Struggle” and related sub-themes such as: “War and Empire”; “Borders and Coalitions”; “Struggling for Justice”; and the “Public Work of Labor History”. The deadline for proposals is 15 October 2016. For more information, click here or email


Greg Patmore, Worker Voice: Employee Representation in the Workplace in Australia, Canada, Germany, the UK and the US 1914–1939

This book informs debates about worker participation in the workplace by analysing comparative historical data relating to these ideas during the inter-war period in Australia, Canada, Germany, the UK and the US. The issue is topical because of the contemporary shift to a workplace focus in many countries without a corresponding development of infrastructure at the workplace level, and because of the growing “representation gap” as union membership declines. Click here for more information.