CFP – Material Matters in Times of Crisis Capitalism: Transnational Feminist and Decolonial Approaches. International Conference 13th – 15th November 2014, Giessen, Germany

International Conference, 13th – 15th November 2014
Institute of Sociology, Justus-Liebig University, Giessen

Material Matters in Times of Crisis Capitalism:
Transnational Feminist and Decolonial Approaches

The question of materiality has emerged as a central topic in studies
concerned with the body, affect, sexuality, bio-politics and digital culture
in recent years. Under the umbrella term “new materialism”, this
interdisciplinary and multifaceted academic debate seems to have revived a
Marxist vocabulary. Yet, the question of why “materiality” matters in times
of crisis capitalism is rather absent in this debate.

Starting from the assumption that crisis is not exceptional in capitalism but its constant companion and that it represents the foundation from which the modern/colonial world system has evolved, this conference draws on critical feminist economics and decolonial feminist thought and practice on material matters.

The conference has three inter-related aims: first, to examine from transnational feminist perspectives the impact of the global crisis on people’s livelihoods; second, to explore the theoretical contributions of the triad of feminism, coloniality and political economy; and, third, to consider critical feminist economics and decolonial approaches to thinking alternative economies and convivial futures.

In this spirit we have invited key contemporary thinkers, who have linked academic work to political activism and social intervention. Confirmed keynote speakers are:
* Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (Columbia University)
* Rhoda Reddock (University of the West Indies, St. Augustine)
* Lourdes Benería (Cornell University)
* Gülay Toksöz (Ankara University)
* Gladys Elizabeth Tzul Tzul (Benemérita Universidad de Puebla)
* Marina Gržinić (Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna)

This conference also calls for contributions from activists and artists in a variety of formats such as blogs, radio programmes, video clips and performances on the following themes (though these are by no means exhaustive):

* Between Crisis and Change: Feminism, Living Well and Conviviality
* Queer, Transgender and Feminist approaches to Decolonizing Political
* Political Economy and Livelihood
* Austerity, Gender & Migration
* Alternatives to Crisis Capitalism: From Time-Banks to the Politics of Affect

Please send a title, an abstract of max. 250 words in English, Spanish,
Portuguese or German, a brief biography and registration form to, by 01.05.2014. Successful abstract submissions will be
notified by 01.07.2014

For more details, visit the Event Documentation page and download the full CFP.


Committee on Migrant Workers 2013 (UN – Human Rights)

[See original article here]

18th Session (15-26 April 2013)

The session will take place at the Palais Wilson, First Floor Conference Room.

All observers wishing to attend the above session must be duly registered.

Representatives of non-governmental organizations wishing to attend the session should register online and follow the instructions for registration and for obtaining a ground pass:   Click here.

All other observers should fill-out the Conference Registration Form in full ( and send it by e-mail to the Secretary of CMW at This form must include the full title of the national human rights institution, university or other affiliate (under “Delegation/Participant of Country, Organisation or Agency”), the name of the country issuing the respective passport or identity document along with the number and date of validity; the office phone number and address of the institution, university or other affiliate as the case may be, as well as the e-mail address; the home phone number, address and e-mail in the case of a private individual; as well as the address where the applicant will be staying in Geneva.

To receive the ground pass, all applicants are required to bring the signed original of the Conference Registration Form, a valid national passport or government issued photo ID, and appear in person at the Palais des Nations, Security Entrance, Pregny Gate, 8 – 14 Avenue de la Paix, 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland.  The office hours are 8:00 to 17:00, Monday through Friday.

Please note that applicants must bring their passports (or government issued photo ID) every time they wish to enter UN premises.

All requests for registration should reach OHCHR two weeks in advance of the session at the latest, i.e., by 1 April 2013.

Applicants who submit forms that are illegible, incomplete or received after the deadline may not be registered. Please note that OHCHR will not provide letters of invitation for the purpose of obtaining visas to observers wishing to attend CMW sessions. In addition, OHCHR is unable to assist with travel and/or accommodation costs relating thereto.

The Committee accepts written submissions by non-governmental organizations, national human rights institutions and other stakeholders on the implementation of the Convention by States parties. Organizations that wish to submit information to the Committee may do so by e-mail to the Secretary of the Committee at in Word format, indicating whether or not the information may be published on the CMW website and, if possible, also in hard copy to the address indicated below.

Written submissions should address as briefly and precisely as possible the main human rights issues arising under the articles of the Convention affecting migrant workers and members of their families in the State party concerned, as well as migrant workers and members of their families from that State party who live abroad. Written submissions should be prepared with a view to assisting the Committee in formulating targeted conclusions and recommendations, as well as lists of issues, and in the case of lists of issues prior to reporting, in identifying the central issues to be addressed in the State party’s subsequent periodic report. Written submissions by external parties are not to be published as official UN documents and, therefore, will not be translated by the UN Secretariat.

Representatives of non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders may also provide information orally on the States parties under consideration directly to the Committee in public meeting and/or at informal meetings scheduled for this purpose.

Organizations wishing to provide oral briefings should contact the Secretary of CMW. Participants making oral interventions in public meeting should bring with them 20 copies of their statements for distribution to the Committee experts and interpreters.

For additional information, please contact:

CMW Secretariat
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Palais Wilson
52, rue des Paquis
CH-1201 Geneva
Telephone: 00 41 22 917 9301
Fax: 00 41 22 917 9008


World Report 2012 Domestic Workers

New Convention Establishes First Global Labor Standards for Millions of Women and Girls

On June 16, 2011, with the world’s attention consumed by street protests in the Middle East and a stubbornly bleak global economy, a quiet revolution took place. Overcoming initial skepticism and resistance, members of the International Labour Organization (ILO)—governments, trade unions, and employers’ associations—voted overwhelmingly in favor of a new groundbreaking treaty that, for the first time, established global labor standards for the estimated 50 to 100 million domestic workers worldwide who clean, cook, and care for children and the elderly in private households. […]

Read the full article: World Report 2012 Domestic Workers

The article includes two downloadable reports:

World Report Essay: A Landmark Victory for Domestic Workers_2012.pdf

49th Linz Conference: Towards a Global History of Domestic and Caregiving Work

12-15 September 2013

Organized by International Conference of Labour and Social History (ITH), in cooperation with the Institute of Economic and Social History, Univ. of Vienna, the International Research Center “Work and Human Lifecycle in Global History”, Berlin, the International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam, and the Arbetarrörelsens arkiv och bibliotek, Stockholm.


The conference focuses on the global history of domestic workers in private homes, a labour market that over time has included, in addition to physical labour, care for infants, children, and the elderly (“emotional labour”).

Work done outside of homes in (small) business or caregiving institutions (hospitals, old people’s nursing homes) will be the topic of a later conference. Domestic work, now usually designated as “domestic and caregiving” work, has also been assigned to men in the racializations that (colonial but also postcolonial) societies imposed on men of colours-of-skin other than white. Work in households other than one’s own is not only a global phenomenon with area-specific variations and regimes, it is also one with a history extending over centuries and changing over the ages, e.g. the shift extended families – nuclear families – dual-income families. Migration of women to such service positions is not as new as some observers claim. Nevertheless, the social sciences have failed to develop analyses with both long-term historical and global perspectives. The recent ILO Convention “Decent Work for Domestic Workers” (2011) is the first international agreement in which domestic workers had a voice.

In the last decade research, esp. feminist research, has increasingly paid attention to the global history of domestic employees (“servants“) and to caregiving in private homes. These workers, the vast majority of whom have been women, have always been especially exposed to employer arbitrariness and have had a particularly weak negotiating position. Their working conditions were and are usually hidden behind the walls of the “private sphere.” Conditions and positions vary depending on societal structures for example between Latin America, China, and Europe. The history of domestic workers is and always has been a history of migration. While the migrant status has often been used to explain the neglect of these women in the history of the labour movement, working in the households of strangers and migration for household labour has, in fact, a far longer history than the industrial labour movement. Research needs to include free and unfree workers, live-in domestics and service personnel with their own accommodation, men and women, adults and children, but not apprentices in workshops that are housed in masters’ homes.

“Towards a Global History of Domestic Workers and Caregivers” in long-term perspective aims at developing an analysis that, by bringing this neglected category of working women and men into focus, will contribute to a new, comprehensive history of labour. What are the similarities and differences both between the world’s regions and over time from the early modern to the modern period? What transfers occur? Present-day domestic work will form the core of the analyses but a historical approach is indispensable. Presenters from across the globe will help avoid a Eurocentric focus.

The relationships between paid, unpaid, and forced (slave) labour and reproductive work in a comparative perspective taking account of differentiated developments across the globe. The paper needs to deal with slave labour in domestic settings, common in some macro-regional cultural structures to mid-20th century, and with the export or labouring women by remittance dependent economies.

1. Section: Domestic work and caregiving labour in the households of others – changing definitions and concepts
Conceptual and social historical introduction to the conference theme und the development since the mid-19th century and, perhaps, comparatively the early modern period, including references to slave labour; a survey and analysis of the multiple societally-structurally differentiated forms of domestic and caregiving work; analysis of its role in the political economy of societies with examples from major regions on different continents. This survey needs to incorporate attempts to professionalize the sector at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century in view of both labour shortages and mechanization of household tasks. For the present the assembly-line-type time and motion studies of care work and the concomitant dequalification need to be discussed.
Continuities and discontinuities of definitions and terms will be discussed in a global perspective.

2. Section: Changing division of labour – the relationship between workers and employers in private households
The core question remains: Who works for whom? How did the constitution of power relationships regarding gender roles and ascriptions, of ethnicity and class, change over long historical periods? How do such power relationships emerge and how are they perceived in global perspective? How may the concept of “Otherness as a resource,” as an entry-gate to bordered wealthy societies, be included into the analysis? How did working conditions and employee-employer relations adapt to the change from private contracting to profit-oriented agencies and large domestics-supplying businesses? This Section’s goal is a discussion of the global division of labour and global inequality as regards reproductive labour in a long-term historical perspective.

3. Section: Working conditions and reasons to seek and accept work in the households of others
Working conditions for domestic and caregiving workers are often described as degrading. But many similarities notwithstanding, attention needs to be paid to variations over time and space. Work in the context of live-in arrangements may make sense as cost-saving arrangements – especially for migrants who need to defray the cost of migration and who need to acculturate. Migration may be intended to improve the financial situation of the respective worker’s family, it may be an opportunity to sponsor migration of the family, or it may be a strategy to escape from extremely unequal gender hierarchies in the society of origin. While such work may be seen as dirty and degrading, it may also be perceived as well-ordered, gratifying, and satisfying, or as doubly exploitative physical and emotional labour. Such work may have to be accepted under duress or force, it may be wage-work without emotional attachment, or it may serve as training period. Some live-in employees experience lifelong dependency and exploitation, others assume positions for a limited period of time to prepare for labour in and management of their own households. Working conditions vary between live-in service and daily commuting to work either from self-rented accommodations or the employees’ own family household. Migrations may involve intra-regional or transcontinental moves; they reflect both dynamic and ossified (micro-) regional and global divisions of labour. It is the goal of this Section to analyze the broad range of motivations and life-projects of domestic workers in global perspective as well as the role and impact of state and international regulation in the legal and political sphere.

4. Section: Mobilization – resistance – organization
The history of the labour movement has long regarded political and trade union mobilization of workers in the domestic sphere as weak or non-existent since processes and organizational structures usually did not correspond to those of the industrial, male unions. Like proletarians in factory labour, domestic and caregiving workers often have no other options or means to feed themselves and their families. But the latter are subject to particular constraints due to the intimate relationship of the secluded home, to the walls separating the “private sphere” from outside scrutiny. For domestic and caregiving workers resistance against unacceptable working conditions often involves resistance against unacceptable living conditions. What types and patterns of resistance emerge over time? How do groups of workers, especially women, mobilize and organize to improve their working conditions? What is the impact of global networking?
Thus this conference expands the traditional history of both the classic labour movement and the history of male and female working-class culture in the productive sphere by incorporating the reproductive sphere – including care for children and the elderly (“emotional labour”). Work regimes range from paid to enslaved household work. The overall goal is an inclusive gendered history of men’s and women’s work in the inextricably entwined spheres of productive and reproductive work.

Call for Papers
Proposed papers need to address the above conference topics and have to include
– abstract (max. 300 words)
– biographical note (max. 200 words)
– full address and email-address
– the targeted thematic section and workshop or conference.

The workshop, 12 Sept. 2013, is intended for ongoing research on the level of doctoral dissertations.
A special effort will be made to include papergivers from all regions of the world.
The organizers hope to be able to reimburse travel costs, grant applications are pending.
Proposals to be sent to Silke Neunsinger:

– Submission of proposals: 1 Sept. 2012
– Notification of acceptance: 1 Oct. 2012
– Deadline for full papers: 1 Aug. 2013
– A publication of selected conference papers is planned, final manuscripts due 1 April 2014.

Preparatory Group
Co-ordinator: Dirk Hoerder (Salzburg, Austria)
Co-ordinator: Silke Neunsinger (Arbetarrörelsensarkiv och bibliotek, Stockholm)
Co-ordinator: Elise van Nederveen Meerkerk (International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam)
Marcel van der Linden (International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam)
Raquel Varela (Instituto de História Contemporânea, Universidade Nova de Lisboa)
For the ITH: Berthold Unfried (Institute of Economic and Social History, Vienna University), Eva Himmelstoss

Advisory Committee
Josef Ehmer (Universität Wien)
Donna Gabaccia (University of Minnesota, USA)
Vasant Kaiwar (Duke University, USA)
Amarjit Kaur (University of New England, Armidale, AU)
Elizabeth Kuznesof (University of Kansas, USA)
Sucheta Mazumdar (Duke University, USA)

Eva Himmelstoss
International Conference of Labour and Social History (ITH)
Altes Rathaus, Wipplingerstr. 8, A-1010 Vienna, Austria
Fax +43 (0)1 2289469-391, e-Mail:

[Direct Link:

UN: International treaty on domestic workers’ rights to come into force next year

[Published on the 5th of September 2012,]

A United Nations treaty which provides a set of international standards to improve the lives of millions of domestic workers worldwide has now been ratified by a second Member State, the Philippines, allowing it to come into force next year, the world body announced today.

The Convention on Domestic Workers, which states that workers around the world who care for families and households must have the same basic labour rights as other employees, was adopted at the annual conference of the UN International Labour Organization (ILO) last year in Geneva.

To enter into force, however, the Convention required ratification by two countries. In June, Uruguay became the first country to ratify it.

“Today’s ratification by the Philippines sends a powerful signal to the millions of domestic workers who will be protected when the Convention comes into force,” said ILO’s Director-General, Juan Somavia. “I hope it will also send a signal to other Member States and that we will soon see more and more countries committing to protect the rights of domestic workers.”

Recent ILO estimates based on national surveys or censuses in 117 countries place the number of domestic workers at a minimum of 53 million, but experts say there could be as many as 100 million across the world.

In developing countries, they make up at least four to 12 per cent of those in wage employment, and around 83 per cent of them are women or girls, many of whom are migrant workers.

“The new standard covers all domestic workers and provides for special measures to protect those workers who, because of their young age or nationality or live-in status, may be exposed to additional risks,” ILO said in a news release.

The Convention also states that domestic workers must have the right to reasonable working hours, weekly rest of at least 24 consecutive hours, a limit on in-kind payments and clear information on terms and conditions of their employment, as well as the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining.

Feminisation of Labour is back!

After a few months offline, we are back! We will be updating the blog during the next few days and adding the resources that were available in the previous site. As well as a brand new blog, we now also have Twitter and Facebook!

Please note that the url address has changed and you might need to update your bookmarks.

[CfP] Call for papers: WELCOMING STRANGERS, Royal Holloway, 27 April 2012

An international, interdisciplinary postgraduate conference, 27 April 2012
Humanities and Arts Research Centre, Royal Holloway, University of London

Keynote speakers:
Professor Robin Cohen (Emeritus Professor and Principal Investigator of the Leverhulme-funded Oxford Diasporas Programme, University of Oxford
Professor John Hill, Department of Media Arts, Royal Holloway, University of London.
With accelerated inter- and intra-national mobility, the concepts of place and displacement, and their impact on individual and collective identities, have received unprecedented scholarly attention in disciplines as diverse as Geography, Politics, Music, Film and Media Studies, English, Postcolonial Studies and Migration and Diaspora Studies. The growing importance of multi-locality, transnational (and ‘post-national’) communities, cosmopolitanism and various forms of flexible citizenship call binarisms which posit ‘the stranger’ as ‘the Other’ of the indigenous community, as the ‘guest’ who is welcomed by the hegemonic host society, into question. Contests around notions of ethnic essentialism and cultural purity have given way to a widespread acceptance of diversity and the celebration of hybridity. In music, literature, and film, the contributions of artists with transnationally mobile and/or ethnic minority backgrounds to the aesthetic traditions of western hegemonic cultural productions have resulted in innovative creative synergies of the local and the global and have enjoyed considerable cross-over appeal. On the other hand, many ‘strangers’ have not been welcomed, their voices have been silenced, and their artistic expressions have been marginalized. The exponential growth in informational technologies and the mobility of global capital, which once promised to fulfil McLuhan’s vision of a global village, has been accompanied by many unforeseen challenges. Restricted mobility of labour, asylum legislation, and new security challenges pose a threat to the ideal of global identities and a cosmopolitan society.
The conference committee invites proposals for papers from postgraduate students working in or (in)between the fields of Geography, Politics, Music, Film and Media Studies, English, Postcolonial Studies and Migration and Diaspora Studies. In particular, we are interested in papers addressing the following issues:

  • · The impact of displacement and transnationalism and artistic practice in literature, film and music
  • · Hybridity, creolisation and artistic innovation
  • · Representations of migration and diaspora in literature, film and television
  • · Stereotyping strangers
  • · Cosmopolitanism and identities at the margins
  • · Transnational mobilities, citizenship and bordering practices
  • · Migrants of calamity: financial crisis, terrorism, and environmental change
  • · Migration, politics, law, territoriality
  • · (Inter)disciplinary approaches to hospitality
  • · Producing and performing locality
  • · Transnational flows, transnational connections
  • · Emotional and social constructions of ‘home’
  • · ‘Stranger again’ – returning to the country of origin

Please send your 200-word abstract, together with a brief biographical note, 4 key words, and 4 bibliographical references to the conference committee no later than 31 January 2012.

The Conference Committee:
John Abrahm (Politics)
Richard Bater (Geography)
Prof. Daniela Berghahn (Media Arts)
Lia Deromedi (English)
Stephanie Vos (Music)
Deniz Yardimci (Media Arts)


Daniela Berghahn
Professor of Film Studies
Department of Media Arts
Royal Holloway
University of London
TW20 0EX
T. +44 (0)1784 443838