Workshop and Symposia


    • Celebrating Labour History's 100th Issue: Reflection and Renewal
      29th Apr 2011 The Women's College, The University of Sydney

      This conference celebrates the 100th issue of Labour History through papers that review the contribution that the journal has made to issues of key importance to Australian social, political, management and industrial relations history. There is also a roundtable examining the journal's past, present and potential future contribution to research, scholarship, theory building and debate in the domain of labour and social history.

      Symposium Program

      Time Details

      9.15am - 9.30am


      9.30am - 9.45am

      Welcome - John Shields (The University of Sydney)

      9.45am - 11.15am

      Bradley Bowden (Griffith University), 'The Rise and Decline of Australian Unionism: A History of Industrial Labour from the 1820s to 2010'

      Nick Dyrenfurth (The University of Sydney), 'Labour and Politics'

      Mark Hearn (Macquarie University) and Harry Knowles (The University of Sydney), 'Representative Lives? Biography and Labour History'

      11.15am - 11.45am

      Morning Tea

      11.45am - 1.15pm

      David Roberts (The University of New England), 'The 'Knotted hands that set us high': Labour History and the Study of Convict Australia'

      Louise Thornthwaite (University of New South Wales), 'The State, Labour and the Writing of Labour History'

      Chris Wright (The University of Sydney), 'Historical Interpretations of the Labour Process: Retrospect and Future Research Directions'

      1.15pm -  2.15pm


      2.15pm - 3.15pm

      Nikola Balnave (The University of Western Sydney) and Greg Patmore (The University of Sydney), 'The Politics of Consumption and Labour History'

      Ray Markey (Auckland University of Technology), 'The Australian Place in Comparative Labour History'

      3.15pm - 3.45pm

      Afternoon Tea

      3.45pm - 4.45pm

      Round Table Discussion - The Past, Present and Future of Labour HistoryNikola Balnave, Terry Irving, Greg Patmore and John Shields

      4.45pm - 5.00pm

      Conclusion - Greg Patmore (The University of Sydney)

    • Activists in Aggregate: Collective Biography, Labour History, and the Biographical Register of the Australian Labour Movement, 1788-1975
      12th Oct 2011 Room 214/215, Economics & Business Building (H69)


      Room 214/215, Economics and Business Building (H69)

      John Shields, University of Sydney
      Andrew Moore, University of Western Sydney
      Yasmin Rittau, University of Sydney


      Despite the solid - if occasionally polemical - record of research and publication in the biographical genre by Australian labour historians over the past sixty years, there are hundreds if not thousands of labour activists whose lives have remained un- or under-documented; lost, for all intents and purposes, to both the established scholar and the enthusiastic student. The Biographical Register of the Australian Labour Movement 1788-1975 represents an attempt to address these lacunae by publishing brief (300-700 word) biographical entries on some 2,000 activists about whom we have been able to discover at least a fragment of information and whom we consider to have made a significant but hitherto un- or under-recorded contribution to the movement's history at the national, State, regional and/or local scale at some point down to the mid-1970s.

      Our paper traverses the Register's founding aims and subsequent evolution. It also sets the project in wider historiographical context, including within the genre of Australian labour movement biography and projects in collective labour biography in other countries. With the Register's 2,000-plus entries now at the point of on-line publication, we can also now reflect, with a degree of confidence, on what we see as its revelatory aspects. Its publication on-line, complete with a detailed statistical spreadsheet allowing aggregated analysis of activist demography and dimensions of activism, sheds?? light on the historical landscape of Australian labour activism. The entries and accompanying statistical database assist us to better explain the often deeply personal well-springs of labour activism, and reveal some significant demographic factors and trends underpinning labour activism. These include birthplace, parental occupation, residency, family structure and size, religion, education level, marital status, age at first activism, longevity of activism, and the like. The entries also illuminate important institutional and ideological facets of labour activism. Perhaps most excitingly, they also allow us to shed light on some hitherto submerged socio-spatial facets of the collective experience. While we cannot pretend that we have recognised more than a few of these aspects, we wish to make mention of nine specific issues and themes upon which we believe the Register entries, taken together, do cast additional light:

      1. Varieties of activism
      2. Generations in revolt: waves of militancy
      3. Activist life trajectories
      4. Intimate unions: the importance of family and kinship
      5. The power of place
      6. Spatial variation
      7. Unsettled lives: militants on the move
      8. A labour intelligentsia?
      9. Leadership and legitimacy

      In these and other respects, we see the Register as a significant means of furthering our understanding of Australian labour movement activism. Our most fervent hope is that the Register's publication will mark a new beginning rather than an end. Assisted by the manner of its publication on line, we like to think of it as a living resource, there to be read and re-read, supplemented, corrected, and criticised by succeeding generations of Australian labour historians. In this sense, like the work of the people whose lives it acknowledges, the Register may become a truly collective cause uniting successive generations.

    • Third Annual Conference of AAHANZBS
      8th Dec 2011 AUT University, Business School


      Change and Control: Perspectives from Business and Labour History

      The Third Annual Conference of Academic Association of Historians in Australian and New Zealand Business Schools (AAHANZBS)

      8-9 December 2011, AUT University, Business School

      Hosted by the Business and Labour History Group, a specialist research group of the New Zealand Work and Labour Market Institute at AUT University.

      Call for papers and session proposals.

      Full papers will be blind refereed by two referees and must be submitted by 15 August. Non-refereed abstracts must be submitted by 10 October.

      In addition to the theme of 'Change and Control' the conference also considers:

      1. The role of historical research in developing theoretical perspectives in business and management
      2. How historical research aids our understanding of contemporary issues in business and management
      3. Teaching history in business and management schools.