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

PhD Studentship in History at La Trobe

Applications are invited for a PhD studentship attached to the Australian Research Council Discovery Project, “Breaking Down Tradition: Women in Male-Dominated Work, 1840-2000.” Through examining the origins and circulation of ideas about women’s and men’s paid work in both Britain and Australia, the research will enhance current understandings of the enduring nature of workplace inequality. The successful candidate will work with the Chief Investigators on the project, Professor Diane Kirkby and Dr Emma Robertson, and be attached to the Archaeology and History Program of La Trobe University. The deadline for applications is 31 January 2017. For more information, click here or contact Prof Diane Kirkby:; tel. 03 9479 2379.


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.