The call for papers for the 2023 WORKLAB General Conference is now open!
Work ties the world together and connects people across the globe. As a central feature to industrialization, wage labour has transformed societies and the daily life of people over the past two centuries. Globalization and free trade connect consumers with workers across vast distances. Millions of people uproot their existence in search work. And the labour movement has at its core that solidarity must extend beyond national boundaries and unite workers on a global scale.
Yet to what extent do museums engaged in preserving and exhibiting the experiences of workers, of industrial work and workers’ movements succeed in broadening their view beyond their national context? Global issues are sometimes addressed in temporary displays or community engagement projects. And a global perspective may exist somewhere behind the narrative of permanent exhibitions. But generally, the national perspective dominates the focus of labour history museums, even as scholars as well as audiences express a steadily growing interest in global and (post)colonial perspectives.
This year’s General Conference of WORKLAB – The International Association of Labour Museums will bring together museum professionals and researchers to discuss the role of global perspectives in the collections, research, and exhibition activities of labour history museums. There is a pressing need for a critical discussion of how global issues concerning work can have a stronger presence in the way labour history is presented to museum audiences. And how may we argue the relevance of a national perspective in labour museums today? The conference invites papers relating to this broad theme, and will cover a range of topics, including the following:
- What experiences have been made by museums that address global issues of work? What has been the approach of museums that work in a transnational context? How does an international perspective affect museums, partnerships, and audiences?
- Which narratives that underpin the study and exhibition of labour history require critical examination? What existing criteria and evaluations of heritage need to be analysed and modified to produce fair and balanced narratives of global work?
- Which networks and forms of cooperation need to be strengthened in order to form closer professional and institutional connections with the Global South? What are the obstacles to global professional cooperation among labour museums that we need to remove?
Presentations will be 20 minutes plus 10 minutes for questions and debat.
Please send your 500-word abstract no later than 15 August 2023 to Hendrik Böttcher, email@example.com. Please include a short biography as well.
See you in beautiful Hamburg!