The 2022 Labour History Conference

The Australian Society for the Study of Labour History (ASSLH) would like to invite you to the 2022 Labour History conference held in April in Bendigo.

The pandemic has illuminated vital links between caring labour, class and community history. As the threat of contagion from Covid-19 spread, the reality of the intersections of gender, race, sexuality, disability, religion, ethnicity and class within contemporary working conditions came starkly into view. 

Health workers became frontline heroes combatting the impact of disease and sustaining life, while statistics showed their susceptibility to infection and its transmission to communities. Revelations about the breadth and depth of precarity, mobility, even wage theft, in health work and across many sectors of the workforce, exposed threats to community physical and mental health from decades of neoliberal policies, practices of workplace management and declining union power. This has all been highlighted in the recent NSW nurses’ strike. 

Regional and community differences made the impacts and consequences of the crisis neither uniform nor predictable. How the economic and social costs were disproportionately carried – by women, the young, and vulnerable Indigenous or migrant communities – showed up vast inequalities of resources, housing and welfare services.

Convenors of the ASSLH conference have chosen this moment of an international health crisis to bring together historians and activists to examine changes in the meaning and historical context of caring labour, class and community.

The keynote speakers include 

  • Professor Victoria K. Haskins, co-Director of the Purai Global Indigenous History Centre at the University of Newcastle, speaking on ‘Sickness and Slavery: Aboriginal domestic workers and disease in Australian history’
  • Associate Professor Katharine McKinnon Director of the Centre for Sustainable Communities, University of Canberra speaking on ‘Who does the work of labour? Assemblages of care and the collectivity of childbirth’
  • Plenary session on ‘Class, Community and caring’ with Alison Pennington (Centre for Future Work), Penny Howard (Maritime Union of Australia) and David Copley (Rural Health School, LTU) 

The conference will be held in-person in Bendigo 22-24 April 2022. For more information and registration please visit the conference website.