Conducts research and collects data on the global history of labour, workers, and labour relations

International Workshop on Wage Labour, Capital and Precarity in African and Global History

13 March 2015 to 14 March 2015
IISH and Leiden University

The international workshop is organised by the International Institute of Social History, the Institute for History of Leiden University and the African Studies Centre of Leiden.

Convenors: Prof. Jan-Bart Gewald (ASC and Leiden University) and Dr. Stefano Bellucci (IISH and Leiden University)

Are Africa and Europe heading towards a ‘great convergence’ in labour conditions? Africa’s human geography and social history present markedly different challenges to the process of labour exploitation and economic capitalist transformations, in particular due to the fact that the introduction of (free) wage labour and capitalist mode of production is a much more recent phenomenon. However, with the precarisation of labour in the global North (especially in Europe), some points of comparison between the African and Western modes of capitalist labour exploitation are emerging. This workshop brings together specialized scholarship on the history of labour in the emergence of capitalism in Africa and the study of ‘African’ forms of capitalism. Invited contributors to the workshop will discuss their work on different African countries, sectors and workers’ organizations, in order to engage critically with the following research questions: How is the transition to capitalist forms of production expressed in specific histories of labour relations in Africa? How have different contexts and backgrounds resulted in contrasting relations of production? Can case studies on African labour history shed light on the interconnection between slave-based economies, transitional forms of labour mobilization, colonial forced labour, semi-proletarianization and contemporary forms of informal employment and the ‘precariat’? Are we observing a process of labour-driven conversion between Africa and the global North? Could capitalism exist outside the Marxian ‘wage labour and capital’ dialectic? Or are African economies and societies doomed to be non-capitalist?

Contributors: Joseph Inikori (University of Rochester), Yann Moulier-Boutang (Université technologique de Compiègne), Jan-Georg Deutsch (Oxford University), Ann McDougall (University of Alberta), Miles Larmer (Oxford University), Ismael Montana (University of Northern Illinois), Elias Mandala (University of Rochester), Chibuike Uche (ASC), Erik Bahre (Leiden University), Cassandra Mark-Thiesen (University of Basel), Helena Perez-Niño (School of Oriental and African Studies), Rory Pilossof (University of Bloemfontein)

Discussants: Gareth Austin (Graduate University of Geneva), Marcel van der Linden (IISH/University of Amsterdam), Leo Lucassen (IISH/Leiden University), Ulbe Bosma (IISH/Free University of Amsterdam), Karin Hofmeester (IISH)

13 March – IISH, AvScheltemazaal, Cruquiusweg 31, Amsterdam
14 March – Leiden University, room 148, Lipsius bld., Cleveringaplaats 1, Leiden

To attend the workshops registration is required. Contact Ms. Astrid Verburg: