WORCK Conference 1: Reconceptualising Wage Labour

17-19 September 2020: Budapest, Hungary

Hosts: Susan Zimmermann and Isidora Grubacki

GENERAL NOTE: The WORCK Conference is now confirmed to take place in Budapest. You may register for the event through this website by filling in the registration form before 17 August 2020 and book your accommodation (see details below). Conference speakers, who are unable to travel to Budapest due to COVID-19, will present their papers via video conference. All presentations can be followed online. Given the uncertainties of the current pandemic, we ask you to wait for the official eCOST invitation to be sent by the grant holder by the end of August before booking any travel tickets to Budapest. COST also recommends to take out a travel cancellation insurance. Travel cancellation insurances are eligible for reimbursement.

One of the defining features of global labour history has been the insistence on looking beyond wage labour. Therefore, much scholarship has been directed towards labour understood to be informal or coercive. From this vantage point, historians have argued that in a global and long-term historical perspective wage labour in a stable labour market was rarely the norm. However, in conceptualising wage labour as an exception scholars often maintain an analytical distinction between labour relations understood to be coercive, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, wage labour which is implicitly or explicitly understood to be a form of free labour. This conference aims to move past this binary by exploring the moments and logics of labour coercion within labour relations mediated by remuneration (of all kinds) and/or contracts (of all kinds) including ostensibly free labour. To this end, it also seeks to open up a discussion about whether concepts such as “hired labour” can help historians reconceptualise historical links between wage labour and labour coercion.

In nine sessions, 37 conference speakers from all parts of the world will address the conference topic from different perspectives. Two round table discussions and a debate on a documentary will complement the programme.

Call for Papers [pdf]

Conference Poster [pdf]

Conference Programme [pdf, update]

Deadline for paper proposals: 15 February 2020

Registration deadline: 17 August 2020


Please wait until the end of August to receive the official eCOST invitation by the grant holder before booking your travel tickets! COST recommends to take out a travel cancellation insurance. Please check the terms of the service provided by the insurance you choose, especially in relation to the current pandemic. Travel cancellation insurances are eligible for COST reimbursement. In case you will have to cancel your travel at short notice, you will have to rely on your insurance policy and claim your travel expenses from your insurance company.

Conference venue

Central European University (CEU)
Campus, Nador utca 15, 1051 Budapest

Map of the conference venue [pdf]


CEU Residence Center (https://residencecenter.ceu.edu/)
Kerepesi út 87, 1106 Budapest

Location: ca. 40 min. from CEU Campus with good public transportation (bus stop is opposite the building + Metro Line 2)

The CEU Residence Center is a modern residence complex offering comfortable accommodation in air-conditioned rooms. Each room features free Wi-Fi and has its own bathroom. It is run as a hotel type service, amenities include cafeteria, bar, swimming pool, sauna, gym, tennis court.

  • Student Rooms (with single bed): 35 EUR/night
  • Hotel Rooms (single/double rooms with bathroom): 52 EUR/night
  • Breakfast: 7,5O EUR; tourism tax: 300 HUF/person/night

Details for accomodation: CEU Residence Center [pdf]

Reservations can be made via email sent to: resman@ceu.edu.
Please indicate WORCK CONFERENCE in the reservation email subject. Reservations can be cancelled free of charge before 15 August 2020. In case that the CEU policy changes and doesn’t allow to accommodate events and guests in September due to COVID-19, the Residence Center will reimburse the participants any time free of charge.