Workers of the World: the 15th Biennial National Labour History Conference

Call for Papers

Brisbane, 23-25 September 2017

Convened by the Brisbane Labour History Association (BLHA) on behalf of the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History (ASSLH)

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.

How did we become workers of the world? How has the labour movement dealt with immigration and the politics around immigration? How has it created a movement of immigrants and locally born? How have immigrants experienced and changed the labour movement? What challenges did we face in the process?

These are compelling questions in the era of Donald Trump and Brexit.

Australians are workers of the world in a second sense, as globalisation and the liberalisation of international trade and commerce has made more of our daily work part of an international division of labour. A large number of Australian citizens now work overseas, some temporarily, some permanently; making us both an immigrant and an emigrant people.

What challenges has globalisation posed for workers and the labour movement? How have we dealt with them?

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.

The 2017 Labour History conference also invites academic papers and presentations by labour activists around the broader agenda of labour history.

Submission deadlines

The deadline for submitting proposals for an oral presentation or non-refereed paper is Monday 14 July 2017.

Selected papers from the conference will be peer-reviewed and published in special editions of Labour History and Economic and Labour Relations Review in 2018.

The deadline for submitting papers for peer review and possible publication in these journals is Monday 1 May 2017.

Full details on paper submission are on the conference website:

Queries about the conference can be sent to

Keynote speakers

Ruth Milkman

Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the City University of New York Graduate Center and Research Director at the Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies. Her 2006 book, L.A. Story: Immigrant Workers and the Future of the U.S. Labor Movement, was a pathbreaking study that documented the role immigrant workers played in transforming the Los Angeles labour movement from a relative backwater into a centre of labour organising.

John Maynard

John is a Director of the Purai Global Indigenous and Diaspora Research Centre at the University of Newcastle and Chair of Indigenous History. His work has described the way that freedom and anti-racist struggles internationally have influenced Aboriginal activism in Australia.

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