4020 Linz, Austria
The 2022 ITH Conference, organised by the International Conference of Labour and Social History (ITH) is held in Linz/Austria and takes from the present epidemiological crisis to also reflect on other times of disaster and their implications for workers, organised labour and labour relations.
The onset of the global pandemic radically challenged the world of work. Lockdowns and other public health policies re-segmented labour markets, reallocated rights and reinforced privileges. Homework exploded, all while workers deemed “essential” kept on risking their health in services, care, slaughterhouses and farms. Both in the Global South and the Global North, labour legislation was rolled back, and trade-unions muted.
The 2022 ITH conference takes from the present epidemiological crisis to also reflect on other times of disaster and their implications for workers, organised labour and labour relations. This includes disasters triggered by technological hazards, such as mining accidents or the explosion of gas plants, disasters triggered by environmental hazards, such as earthquakes or forest fires, and epidemiological disasters, such as the Bubonic Plague, the Influenza of 1918 and the current Covid-19 pandemic.
No disaster is purely natural. A disaster takes place within environmental, social, economic and political contexts that ultimately determine the impact of a disaster. Human Intervention is important to the outbreak of such events. It is human society, not nature, that is in crisis due to viruses, geological or climatic changes; it is human society that produces technological disasters; it is the geo-ecological shifts between humans (society) and nature that can produce biophysical hazards. The social and economic impact of a hazard is determined by nature and extent of societal vulnerability. It is this societal vulnerability that turns a hazard into a disaster, the endemic into an epidemic.
How well societies prepare for, cope with or recover from disasters is determined by their social, political, economic and cultural vulnerability and their capacity to absorb these shocks (their resilience). At the ITH conference 2022 we focus on how labour was affected by and dealt with disasters in both a long-term and short-term perspective. We approach this topic through the lens of political ecology, i.e. we take the viewpoint of both environmental history and Marxist political economy.
There are numerous factors that deepen labourer’s vulnerability and their capacity to cope with shocks: environmental, economic or institutional factors. Studying disasters via a political ecology approach allows us to analyse these factors in a combined way. From a political ecology approach, we see that the expansion of capitalism and the inherent exploitation of both labour and nature has had a severe impact on workers’ vulnerability to hazards: it worsened the livelihood of many, and weakened communal institutions (e.g. commons), but has also created the preconditions for environmentally-induced disasters. These pre-conditions materialise in varied ways in different societal contexts – a heterogeneity that needs to be explored.
Languages: English, German
Organised by: International Conference of Labour and Social History (ITH)
Supported by: Chamber of Labour of Upper Austria, Chamber of Labour of Vienna, Austrian Society for Political Education, Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, and the City of Linz.
To register, please contact conference[at]ith.or.at.
For more information, click here.
14:00 – 14:30 (CET): Break
11:00 – 11:15 (CET): Coffee Break
13:15 – 14:30 (CET): Lunch
16:00 – 16:15 (CET): Coffee Break
18:15 – 19:15 (CET): Dinner
11:00 – 11:15 (CET): Coffee Break
12:45 – 14:00 (CET): Lunch