Dear colleagues,

after this year’s annual meeting of the historians in the DGfA/GAAS had to move online, we hope that many of us will be able to come together next year for a more in-person event, though we are planning on virtual components for those who may still be kept from traveling.

The Annual Meeting of the Historians in the German Association for American Studies (DGfA) will take place February 11-13, 2022, at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany.

We are delighted to present you with a call for papers for this event:

Call for Papers: Labor and Immigration in U.S. History

The transnational turn has introduced significant new perspectives on the history of labor and capitalism in the United States. While the state remains an important object of analysis, decentering the nation in labor history provides additional lenses that focus on circulations, interactions, and connections below or beyond the nation-state. According to Ian Tyrell, they focus attention on exchanges across national boundaries, the impact of asymmetrical power exerted by one nation, and networks of relations not contained by nation-states. In questioning a coherent, all-encompassing national narrative, the voices and visions of people and groups who have been marginalized in the context of a nationalist myopia are reclaimed. The experiences of non-citizens and migrants, labor sojourners and “birds of passage,” inhabitants of border regions, workers of international corporations, and new digital and remote workers help provide a more complete and more complex picture of what both labor and capital have meant in various historical contexts. Negotiations of labor rights, property rights, the rights of capital or corporate personship from the emergent nation-state to globalization accounts for different appraisals of labor heroes or radicals, benevolent tycoons or robber barons. Historians such as Kiran Klaus Patel, for example, root the history of the New Deal in a global context, connecting the history of labor and capital to that of U.S. hegemony in the twentieth century. Others, such as Julie Greene, connect the immigrant experience with American empire. Likewise, Donna Gabaccia focuses on the migration world of Italian workers, and Mae Ngai traces the role of “impossible” illegal immigrant workers in the making of America.

This conference seeks to put into communication various strands of the recent historiography in labor history. To this end, we invite both individual papers and panel proposals on topics including:

Please send short CVs and abstracts for individual papers of no longer than 500 words and in the case of a panel proposal an additional introduction of no longer than 300 words to the organizers until July 23, 2021 to this address:

  • the changing world of labor (industrialization, urbanization, post-industrialization, digitalization, etc.)
  • labor strife
  • labor and gender
  • labor, race, ethnicity, and migration
  • internationalization of labor markets
  • working class culture and solidarity
  • changing forms of employment (small-self-employed farmers to employees and factory workers, to the new gig-economy)
  • labor and space (from home-production and small workshops, to industrial spaces, the open plan office, and call centers, to post-industrial coworking spaces, creative office playrooms, and work from home setups)
  • labor in different geographical contexts
  • the contemporary role and perception of capital and capitalists during a given historical era

Due to continuing uncertainties regarding travel and in-person meetings because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this conference will take place in a hybrid format at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and online. When applying, please indicate whether you plan on attending in person or joining us virtually. For those attending in person, we will provide information on accommodation, but please make sure to organize your own stay in Mainz.

Up to date information on the conference, including this call for papers, can always be found at:

We hope to welcome many of you in Mainz next year!

Axel Schäfer
Anja-Maria Bassimir
Torsten Kathke

Scheduled Call for Papers General News