Research Colloquium and Workshop: “Contested Concepts of Labour: Slavery and Informality”

Research Colloquium and Workshop: “Contested Concepts of Labour: Slavery and Informality”

On 29–30 March 2023, TraSIS PI Serena Tolino and postdoc Omar Anchassi presented at a workshop hosted by the Institute of History (Chair of Modern History) and the Center for Global Studies, University of Bern, organised by Sibylle Marti (University of Bern, SNSF Ambizione Fellow). 

The workshop was launched on 29 March by Seth Rockman, a leading historian at Brown University working on the nexus of the fields of slavery studies, labour history, material culture studies and the history of capitalism in the United States. In his presentation, “Field Hands and Factory Hands: Plantation Provisions and the Material History of U.S. Slavery,” he offered the audience a glimpse at the findings of his forthcoming book.

On the second day of the workshop, Serena Tolino introduced the TraSIS team, discussed the project’s central research questions and methodological and theoretical approaches, and provided an overview of its four sub-projects. Omar Anchassi shared some of his preliminary findings, giving a paper titled “Sexual Exclusivity, Sexual Hospitality and the Umm al-Walad in Early Islamic Law.” 

Sibylle Marti presented a paper titled “Defining and Measuring Informal Work Across the Globe, 1970–Present,” in which she discussed some results of her Ambizione grant. The workshop was concluded by Seth Rockman elaborating the connections between the papers, with a general discussion led by Prof. Dr Christof Dejung. Dejung stressed the importance of discussing concepts related to labour in all its forms, in order to better understand its various manifestations in diverse global contexts. 

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