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The African labour movement at a historical crossroads: past and future of unionism, work and society in Africa 
Stefano Bellucci (Leiden University)
Anna Baldinetti (University of Perugia)
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Stefano Bellucci (Leiden University)
History (x) Violence and Conflict Resolution (y)
Philosophikum, S78
Thursday 1 June, -, -
Time zone: Europe/Berlin

Short Abstract:

Trade unions have played a progressive role in African history and societies. How did/will they face capitalism? This panel deals with the past and present of the African labour movement, trade unions international politics and the issue of intersectionality (class, gender, race, etc.).

Long Abstract:

African trade unions have played a crucial role in African history, in the anti-colonial movement and in the promotion of progressive legislation. The question to be addressed is how does their role in the present live up to their historical role in the past?

In particular, it is claimed by some that trade unions are becoming weaker organisations. Some even claim that they are destined to vanish. Is this really the case?

The decline in trade union membership is not a generalised phenomenon in Africa. Moreover, in some African countries, trade unions are experiencing a resurgence. The Arab Spring in North Africa, spearheaded by trade unions, is only one example of this. Hence, the issue is not about trade unions survival but rather on what is and has been their role in Africa?

One key element in understanding these developments seems the analysis of membership and agency. Is it possible to re-think class-based membership in intersectional terms, i.e. paying more attention to gender, race, generational groups, culture, etc.? In what way are African societies and economies changing as to affect trade unions agency in Africa?

Finally, since the overarching theme of ECAS 2023 is "African Futures", this panel welcomes papers on the African labour movement that critically engage with the issue of African labour history and the future of work (a theme also put also forward by the ILO). The future of labour in African is also affected by African capitalist, global entanglements.

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Thursday 1 June, 2023, -
Session 2 Thursday 1 June, 2023, -