Call for Papers

Labour history of socialist globalisation: The view from the shop-floor – Konstanz, 10-11 October

12th Jun 2019

Labour history of socialist globalisation: The view from the shop-floor
Chair of East European History, University of Konstanz, 10-11 October 2019

The Chair of History of Eastern Europe at the University of Konstanz is pleased to invite applicants to a workshop exploring new developments in the labour history of globalisation in socialist Eastern Europe. Focusing on the period between the 1960s and the 2000s, the workshop seeks to investigate how growing economic entanglements between socialist Eastern Europe (Yugoslavia and the CMEA) and the Global South on the one hand, or the Western capitalist world on the other, shaped workplaces and working lives “back home”. Pushing the chronology beyond 1989, the workshop will also seek to trace the legacy of such entanglements across the period of transition and collapse of the socialist regimes, to historicise the afterlife of such connections in the post-socialist constellation.

The past two decades have witnessed a rapid expansion in the historiography of global socialism. Within this field, the history of socialist globalisation has analysed the multiple ways in which the socialist camp sought to expand its sphere of influence in the Global South, through development projects and trade agreements. Beyond strictly economic partnerships, this research has also traced cultural and intellectual interactions, as well as education and labour exchanges, between Eastern Europe and the developing world, thus complementing or at times challenging the historiography of East-West relations during the Cold War. Embedded within the ongoing debate between views of socialist globalisation as an alternative form of modernisation, or as an effort to “catch up” with the West, this workshop aims to contribute to such discussions by investigating the role shop-floors had in the development of the socialist world’s “global gaze”. These were in fact sites of discussion, acceptance of, or resistance to, new tropes of (economic) globalisation.

The workshop intends to address (but is not limited to) the following questions:
• How did themes of market efficiency, labour productivity, international division of labour, core-periphery trade relations, East-South and South-South cooperation and development feature in industrial sites of production?
• How and why did the socialist working classes react to internal and external pressures towards an increased global interconnectedness?
• How did local translations of globalising capitalist practices, or alternative formulations of “socialist” globalisation, reshape societies back home?
• What tensions emerged as socialist societies sought to reconcile their engagement with the prevailingly capitalist rules of the global economy on the one hand, and the principles of workers’ democracy and socialist ideals that ruled domestically?

Applications should be sent by 14 June 2019 to the organisers: Anna Calori (, Rory Archer ( and Pavel Kolář ( Please send the application as a single word document with your surname in the file name. The document should contain:

1) An abstract and your contact details (300 words)
2) A short biographical statement (150 words)

Selected applicants will be notified by 28 June 2019.

The workshop will start in the afternoon of Thursday, 10 October 2019, and will conclude on the evening of Friday 11 October.

Meals and accommodation in Konstanz for the duration of the workshop (2 nights, 10-12 October 2019) will be provided for all accepted speakers. The organisers will cover travel costs within Europe.