The Columbia University (CU) History Department invites all graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to participate in the conference Labor Past & Present: Bringing History and Activism Together. This conference will run on February 2, 2024, at Columbia University and is jointly funded by the Columbia University History Department and the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy.

All abstracts are due by the end of day on October 27, 2023.

What value does history offer labor organizing today? How do contemporary labor movements inform the study of history? And how does centering non-traditional labor and underrepresented experiences in organizing and history help us better understand labor struggle past and present? Centering industries, workers, and people long marginalized by older history and older organizing, this conference gathers labor organizers and academics to examine these questions together, and contends that scholars and activists have much to learn from one another. International labor movements, immigrant and migrant labor, women, people of color, and non-traditional industries, such as cultural work and healthcare, are the focus of this conference.

They seek proposals that engage these questions and themes. Proposals may focus on any time period and geographic area, and may draw from any discipline, including but not limited to history, political science, social work, sociology, anthropology, diaspora studies, economics and law. Abstracts for a 15-20 minute presentation should fit into at least one of the following panels:

(1) Labor and Health (e.g., health justice, healthcare worker organizing, peer work);

(2) Labor and Cultural Work (e.g., athletes, artists, the “Creative Class”);

(3) Worker Internationalism, Migration, Immigration, and Labor; 

Panels will comprise three papers—at least one of which must be more historical in nature and at least one more focused on contemporary labor struggle and strategy. Applicants are encouraged to submit papers of either type, or papers that bridge both. Please feel free to submit papers individually or as a group if you feel one or more proposals are particularly complementary. Please note that the organizing committee reserves the right to accept all proposals individually, even if submitted as a group.

 Submission Guidelines:

Please submit a 250-300 word abstract outlining the topic and approach of your work in PDF format by October 27, 2023. Limited financial assistance will be available to support panelists’ travel and lodging expenses.  Submit Proposals Here 


 Please reach out to the conference organizers with any questions.

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