Worlds of Related Coercions in Work

The COST Action “Worlds of Related Coercions in Work” (WORCK) calls for a radical change of perspective in labour history. It links the stories of work and production with those of violence, expropriation and marginalisation.

By studying the persistence and transformations of coercion and bondage across gender orders, geographic regions and historical eras, WORCK shifts the focus of labour history: Neither the male-breadwinner model nor the free wage labourer or the capitalist mode of production can form the blueprint for this new history of WORCK. Instead, a deeper understanding of the mechanisms of coercion in all work relations throughout history is the pivot of this endeavour.

By detecting the “logic of deployment” (Banaji 2010) in a long-term and global perspective, WORCK seeks to move beyond the analytical framework of the modern West. Radical historicisation shall help to reconceptualise labour history as a specific approach to social history and to link the study of the past with current debates on social inequalities and the flexibilisation and precarisation of work worldwide.

The conceptual approach of this COST Action bridges the gaps between specialised but hitherto separate subfields to create an academic space that cuts across standard research fields and enables exchanges between scholars working on various topics, including but not limited to:

  • Construction work in ancient civilisations
  • Indentured work and sharecropping in rural societies
  • Chattel slavery and coolie work
  • Debt bondage
  • Convict labour
  • Military labour and impressment
  • Coercive mechanisms in household work and wage labour
  • Precariousness and modern forms of casualization

WORCK promotes the dialogue and widens the chronological and conceptual scope between global labour history, area studies, gender studies, the history of bondage and coercion prior to 1500, and Legal Studies on contemporary forms of coercion.

WORCK sets up a digital research infrastructure and develops a new analytical framework that helps to overcome the dominance of the conceptual matrix of the modern West in the humanities and to conceptualise a new history of work.

WORCK seeks to rebalance historiographies and to encourage mutual learning and conceptual innovation between English-speaking and non-English-speaking academia.

WORCK includes stakeholders from outside academia and engages in public debates on social inequalities and the flexibilization and precarization of work worldwide.

If you would like to receive the WORCK Newsletter and be informed about future calls and events, or if you would like to become an Action Participant yourself, please fill in this form.

Recent news

The Republic of North Macedonia joined the COST Action!

December 20th, 2019|

A warm welcome to Biljana RISTOVSKA-JOSIFOVSKA who has just joined the WORCK management committee as national delegate for the Republic of North Macedonia. Also, we are happy to announce that Uiran Gebara SILVA from the [...]

Save the Date! First WORCK Conference in Budapest

October 16th, 2019|

The first WORCK Conference is going to take place on 16-20 September 2020 at the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary. The Call for Papers is now online. Further information will follow soon. [...]

Registration for Lyon Now Open

October 16th, 2019|

The programme for the first WORCK Meeting, taking place from 27-29 February 2020 in Lyon, is now online. Please register before 15 January 2020. To register, click here.

Just published: De Vito/Schiel/van Rossum 2019

October 14th, 2019|

The programmatic essay by Christian De Vito, Juliane Schiel and Matthias van Rossum arguing for a new approach to labor and social history has just been published: Christian De Vito/Juliane Schiel/Matthias van Rossum, From [...]