Migration and ethnicity in coal field history (worldwide)

For the European Social Science History Conference in Vienna, 23-26 April 2014, we aim to propose the following session, for which we are still looking for contributors:

Migration and ethnicity in coal field history (worldwide)

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Deadline : 15 mai 2013

Coal mining has been (and to a certain extent still is) a truly global industry. Being place-bound by geology, often originating in isolated places, and always labour intensive, coal mining was dependent on migrant labour in almost every district. Cross-border migratory labour connected coalfields, regions and countries, and mobilised both experienced miners and new groups of workers of a variety of national and ethnic descent. Therefore, the history of labour in the coalfields is not only a global, but often a transnational history as well. Ethnic minority groups were also mobilised from within national states, however. Their mobilisation as miners reflected the low status of work in the mines, and also the position of migrants as secondary workers within the mines. These salient features of mining labour have generated a lot of research, especially in labour history, both in different European countries, America, Japan, China, and in former colonies like, for instance, India, Indonesia, Australia/New Zealand, Nigeria, and Southern Africa. While in this research many insights can be gained on the issues of class solidarity, race discrimination, and ethnic identity in individual mining districts, what is still lacking  is a comparative perspective on a global scale.

In this session we want to continue the work started in the volume edited in 2005 by Stefan Berger, Norry LaPorte, and Andy Croll, Towards A Comparative History Of Coalfield Societies, and concentrate on comparative research on migration and ethnicity in coalfield history across all five continents. Comparative studies of groups such as, for instance, Koreans in Japan, black miners in the United States and South-Africa, Italians, Poles and Moroccans in European countries, Irish in Britain, could do much to sharpen our understanding of the impact of migration and ethnicity, not only in the history of coal mining, but also in labour history in general.

In this session we invite participants to present papers on the impact of migration and ethnicity on:

–          workers struggles and labour relations;
–          segmentation and discrimination in mining labour markets;
–          transnational labour mobility and ethnic diaspora’s;
–          the mining community between integration and segregation.

Comparative papers studying developments in coalfields in different countries and continents would be most welcome.

Session organizers:
Ad Knotter (Maastricht), Stefan Berger (Bochum), Chris Williams (Swansea)

For more information, please contact Ad Knotter (a.knotter@maastrichtuniversity.nl)

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