CFP: Challenging Labour: Working-Class Experiences in Canada, Past, Present, and Future 21–23 October 2022 Calgary, Alberta, Treaty 7 territory

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Call for Papers

Challenging Labour: Working-Class Experiences in Canada, Past, Present, and Future 

21–23 October 2022

Calgary, Alberta, Treaty 7 territory

We live in challenging times. Given the powerful hold of neoliberal ideology and the difficulty of imagining alternatives to precarious labour, anti-union pressures, hardening borders, and wealth inequality, understanding the history of work and imagining a different future for work is ever more urgent yet ever more difficult.

We invite your participation in “Challenging Labour,” a conference sponsored by the Canadian Committee on Labour History (CCLH) and Labour/Le Travail, to be held at Mount Royal University, Calgary, 21–23 October 2022. The planning committee welcomes proposals for papers, roundtables, debates, artistic creations, and poster sessions relating to the history of work with a Canadian, Quebec, and comparative or transnational focus. 

We welcome contributions that reflect a range of theoretical and methodological approaches and that explore the history of all types of coerced, paid, and unpaid labour; working-class art, cultures, and communities; politics, organizing, social movements, and unions; gender, race, ethnic, and sexual identities and struggles; colonialism, Indigenous peoples, and empire; theoretical frameworks and debates about labour. 

We are especially interested in facilitating emerging scholarship and concepts, while recognizing ongoing debates that remain central to understanding and practicing labour history. In order to facilitate discussion, we encourage sessions that present different viewpoints, and we will organize specific sessions addressing the following themes: 

  • What is the relationship between capitalism, colonialism, and labour?
  • How have the conceptual categories of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality shaped labour histories? 
  • How can labour history effectively address multiple categories of work – volunteer, paid and unpaid – using concepts such as social reproduction, coerced labour, etc.?
  • How might labour history – in writing, debate, art, theory, teaching – facilitate discussion about social change and transformation? Is utopian thinking about labour still possible? 

Participants can submit single proposals or joint proposals for panels or roundtables. They may also suggest debates or plenaries they would like the committee to organize. Artistic creations, including film, fiction, poetry, theatre readings, and visual displays that can be accommodated within a conference format, are also encouraged. 

Activists, organizers, and independent researchers are especially encouraged to submit proposals. 

All proposals MUST include the following information (which is required for the organizers to solicit funding to support travel and other costs):

  1. Presentation title;
  2. Full name and organizational affiliation of presenter(s) (please indicate student status if relevant); 
  3. A 100 to 150-word biography of presenter(s), including (if applicable) a list of publications, activities, and a list of positions (paid and/or voluntary) relevant to this event.  
  4. A 100 to 150-word outline of the presentation(s). 
  5. Some financial support will be available for travel and accommodation to reduce the cost of participation for graduate students and the precariously employed. Please indicate on your proposal if you require financial support to attend.

Proposals for individual presentations, panels, and roundtables are due 31 January 2022. Please submit proposal materials here or email as an attachment in Word format to the program committee at

Presenters will be encouraged to submit papers based on their presentations to Labour/Le Travail for possible publication.

Questions? Please contact Kirk Niergarth at

For more information: