ELHN 2017 Conference – CFP « The migration of European workers within the continent, from the early modern period to mid-20th C. »

In 1951, Eric Hobsbawm argued that the history of labour was one of constant movement, and his thesis has been confirmed since. Between 1840 and 1940, about 50 million people emigrated to the Americas. This unprecedented flow in human history not just transformed the New World but also Europe, where in some countries up to a third of the population emigrated. Although not all of these migrants were workers, many were. On top of transatlantic emigration, workers emigrated within each of the European countries and regions, from the countryside to towns, across territories to manufacturing areas, to building sites, harbours and mines. Millions of workers also emigrated on a temporary or seasonal basis. This workshop wants to focus on migration flows within Europe.

The many histories of European labour migrations are now better known, but much still is to be researched. This workshop will focus on the period ranging from the end of the Napoleonic wars to the 1930s. It will address some of the following questions:

  • Periodisation: from the early modern period to the 1960s, are there continuities?
  • Definitions: how can we define “labour migration” as specific processes which differ from other flows
  • Quantification: can we measure the extent of labour migration within and without Europe?
  • The authorities and labour migrants
  • Practicalities: what were the practical mechanisms of labour migration ? what were the parts played by entrepreneurs, agents, newspapers, emigrant correspondence?
  • Integration and rejection of the emigrants
  • Cultural, religious and leisure practices of the migrants and transfers
  • Associational and political transfers

Coordinators: Philippe Rygiel (Ecole normale supérieure de Lyon), Fabrice Bensimon (Paris-Sorbonne / University College London)