Workshop and Symposia


  • Australian-US Comparative and Transnational Labour History Conference
    8th Jan 2015 New Law School Lecture Theatre 024, The University of Sydney, Australia

    Historians and other scholars have long recognized both similarities and differences in the labour experience in Australia and the United States. Both countries were built upon European expansion and settlement at the expense of native peoples. The Australian labour movement developed a vigorous Labour Party, while the US did not. Once robust, union membership in both countries has been in decline in recent years. Divisions based on gender, race and class have been significant in both countries. Movements in both countries exchanged ideas and individuals. While Australians have been interested in scientific management, and in the organizational strategies embodied in the Knights of Labour and the IWW, in the US the Australian experience with compulsory arbitration and labour politics has drawn significant attention.

    This conference aims to bring together historians and scholars interested in exploring the comparative and transnational dimensions of the labor history of both Australia and the US.

    There is free registration for academics and research students in the University of Sydney Business School and BLHG members. There is, however, a charge if you wish to attend the Conference dinner.

    Download Conference Program

    Download Abstracts


    Greg Patmore (

    Shelton Stromquist (


    LAWCHA - Labor and Working-Class History Association

  • A Disappearing World - how oral history and sociology can work together to illuminate labour history
    14th Aug 2015 Regiment Seminar Room 7 in the Sydney University Regiment Building on City Road

    Presenter: Ian Watson

    Synopsis: Ian Watson discusses his recently published book, "A Disappearing World: Studies in Class, Gender and Memory". This study looked at two working-class communities (Lithgow and Mt Druitt) during the period from the 1940s to the 1980s. Among the substantive themes explored were the labour aristocracy, the hardship and dignity of working-class life, and the role of alcohol and violence in working-class families. The methodological themes focused on issues of identity and memory. Ian argues that combining insights from sociology, particularly the theorised life-history method, with the traditional tools of the historian, can produce new and valuable insights. In particular, this approach encourages one to combine both a structural and cultural analysis within one's practice as a labour historian.

    Bio: Ian Watson is a freelance researcher, specialising in labour market research. Before becoming freelance Ian worked at ACCIRT, at Sydney University, for 13 years. Prior to that he worked in sociology at Macquarie University. While his current professional work is mostly concerned with statistical analysis of large datasets, his academic background is in history and qualitative sociology. Ian is a visiting research fellow at Macquarie University and at the Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW and his current academic research deals with wage inequality and neoliberalism in Australia.


    Regiment Seminar Room 7
    Sydney University Regiment Building, H01 
    City Road


    Friday 14 August at 1pm

  • One-Stop-Shop: Australian adaptations of the American shopping centre form
    4th Dec 2015 Room 4202 in Building H70 (New Business School Building, Codrington St)

    Abstract: Shopping centres provide a retail social infrastructure that most Australians engage with on a regular or semi-regular basis. They currently represent asset values of more than $126 billion and capture retail sales of around $122 billion, accounting for 47% of the country’s retail trade. Despite their social and economic significance, however, histories of this retail form have received little scholarly attention in Australia. This paper draws on archival research and oral history interviews with industry executives to explore the adaptation of the American shopping mall to Australian conditions, the unique features of the Australian model, and the reasons for its success. It argues that Australia’s planning regimes, the incorporation of a wide range of discretionary and non-discretionary retailers, the stability provided by a concentrated retail industry, and the capacity of retail property operators to adapt to change have provided the basis for a highly successful  industry in Australia that is dominated by a relatively small number of retail property firms.

    Bio: Matthew Bailey is a lecturer in the Department of Modern History at Macquarie University with a research interest in urban, business and retail history. He has published a number of articles and book chapters on retail and retail property history, and is writing a monograph on the history of shopping centres in Australia.

    If you are interested in attending please contact Andre Pinto at by noon on Wednesday 2 December 2015 as a light lunch will be provided.