[CfP] Summer School: Modern History and Anthropology of Work (Jagiellonian School of History and Culture)

Kamil Ruszala Discussion

Summer School: Modern History and Anthropology of Work

Jagiellonian School of History and Culture

Faculty of History, Jagiellonian University


The Department of History, Jagiellonian University is pleased to announce the 2023 Summer School  Modern History and Anthropology of Work, which will take place on 27 August–2 September 2023 at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow, Poland.

Labour is an important social, political and cultural topic, linking issues of contemporary relevance such as inequality, migration and exploitation of the natural environment. The dominant view in the public sphere is that work has changed significantly over the last two centuries: from being a commodity manufacturing activity to one that produces intangible objects, from being dominated by industrial work to being a service activity, and these processes have been accompanied by the precarization of work. Work is transforming, however, in a much less linear way: immaterial labour is not replacing industrial labour – combinations of both practices were present and exist in both past and present workplaces; the deindustrialization of different regions of the globe coincides with the industrialization of others, while the precarization of labour in the West and in post-socialist countries has drawn attention to the precariousness of labour in other regions. The proliferation of digital technologies and the expansion of transnational production networks are changing work around the world, but the effects of this vary in different parts of the globe. Alongside these processes, we observe different forms of the (in)visibility of work, which provoke questions about the bodily dimension of work, its social consequences, the actors involved, the gender segregation and the transformation of the environment, among others. The summer school is intended to bring together scholars working in the field of history and anthropology of work to exchange experiences of research work, establish scholarly contacts and together confront questions of comparative studies in the field.

The focus of the school is on issues specific to the social and cultural history and anthropology of work: leisure, workplaces, working environments, skills and technologies, labour policies, labour economies, mobility and work, representations of work, and cultures of work. In addition, it seems worthwhile to compare the already mentioned processes of the deindustrialization and precarization of work in different regions of the world and their complex relationship with concurrent economic and political changes, for example the relationship between the deindustrialization and the precarization of work and the economic and political transformation that has taken place in the countries of Southern, Central and Eastern Europe.

Also central to the research is the link between bodies and work, as the interaction between workers and the environment not only produces commodities, but also shapes the bodies and identities of workers along with their physical, social and cultural capacities. Bodies at work are most often considered in terms of recognition, agency, inequality, gender and bodily adaptation to the work environment (noise, smell, dust, body position). Adding that the work environment (including the working body) is an ecological environment, it is therefore important to study work as a practice that conditions and co-shapes the natural environment. This assumption directs attention to issues such as the causality of non-human actors (animals, plants, landscape), changes in nature, and the resilience of socio-natural systems.


What to expect

Five lecturers and twelve students will participate in the school. Confirmed lecturers are Małgorzata Fidelis (University of Illinois Chicago), Sharryn Kasmir (Hofstra University), Katherine Lebow (Oxford University), Irene Peano (Universidade de Lisboa), and Nitin Varma (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin).

The participants will work with the distinguished scholars in seminars. Each lecturer additionally offers a lecture or reading class which will be attended by the entire group. Lecturers will also hold office hours (individual meetings with students, to which students will enrol before the school starts).

The Department of History, JU will cover the participants’ accommodation (6 nights), meals (breakfast, receptions, lunches, dinners), and an excursion. The organizers will not cover travel expenses. The tuition fee is €250.


How to apply

We invite MA and PhD students from all disciplines researching modern history and anthropology of work. Those interested in participating in the conference are asked to send their CVs, outlines of their MA/PhD thesis (2,000 words), and abstracts (500 words) of their presentations in docx or pdf format to magdalena.bubik@uj.edu.pl, by 28 February 2023.


School Overview

School days: August 27– September 2, 2023

Where: Department of History, Jagiellonian University, Cracow, Poland

Attendance: on site

School level: Master’s, PhD candidates from all disciplines

Confirmed lecturers: Malgorzata Fidelis (University of Illinois Chicago), Sharryn Kasmir (Hofstra University), Katherine Lebow (Oxford University), Irene Peano (Universidade de Lisboa), and Nitin Varma (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin).


Forms of tuition: on site, lectures, reading groups, seminars

Application deadline: 28 February 2023

Tuition fee: €250. The Department of History, JU will cover the participants’ accommodation (6 nights), meals (breakfast, receptions, lunches, dinners), and an excursion.



The organizing committee is led by Jakub Muchowski (JU), Kamil Ruszała (JU), Magdalena Bubík (JU). The school is co-organized by the [Lab]orans Research Group (JU) dedicated to the history and anthropology of work.