WORCK Conference 1: Reconceptualising Wage Labour

16-19 September 2020: Budapest, Hungary

Hosts: Susan Zimmermann and Isidora Grubacki

ATTENTION PLEASE! Despite the corona crisis, we still expect this conference to take place as it was planned. Yet as we can’t foresee how the pandemic will evolve over the upcoming weeks and if national travel restrictions will remain in force over the summer, we ask you not to book any flight/train ticket or hotel accommodation for now. A definite decision concerning this conference will be taken and communicated in early June.

One of the defining features of global labour history has been the insistence on looking beyond wage labour. Much scholarship has therefore 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 conceptualizing 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 program.

Call for Papers [pdf]

Poster [pdf]

Conference Programm [pdf]

Deadline for paper proposals: 15 February 2020

Registration deadline: 30 June 2020.


Conference Site

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

Map of the conference site [pdf]


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

Location: cc. 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, it offers 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]

Reservation can be made via e-mail sent to: resman@ceu.edu.
Please indicate WORCK CONFERENCE in the reservation e-mail subject.