Labour History and the “Coolie Question”

Edited by Diane Kirkby and Sophie Loy-Wilson.
A special issue of Labour History, no. 113 (November 2017).

A substantial body of research in labour history explores the relationship between capitalism, racialisation and categories of free and unfree labour. The papers gathered here bring this important research to the foreground in an exploration of the “coolie question.” By grappling with the history of Asian indentured labour systems, the authors help us better understand contemporary debates over labour rights and labour migration. Click here for more information.

Humphrey McQueen, “Dr Marx, Professor Childe and Manure: Some Rather Crude Materialism”

The 2017 V. Gordon Childe Memorial Lecture

“Childe … made a reputation digging through the ‘revolting quantity of refuse’ from past civilisations. To illustrate that we acquire our human nature through social evolution, he offers this instance of historical materialism: ‘The human infant has to learn from parents and seniors how to talk, how to dispose of his excrement, what to eat and how to prepare it, and so on.’ These rude facts serve as a lead into … Childe the man, his career and the manner of death.”

Click here for a transcript of the lecture.

The History of the Australian Minimum Wage

Written by Reg Hamilton, this work brings together, probably for the first time, the  Australian Basic Wage, National Wage and Safety Net decisions of the last 100 years, together with each of the movements in the Australian minimum wage. Click here to download the paper.

The decisions and orders that established and varied the Australian minimum wage are now available online and can be accessed here from the Fair Work Commission website.

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.