New Publications


Servants’ Pasts: Late-Eighteenth to Twentieth-Century South Asia, volume 2

edited by Nitin Sinha and Nitin Varma


The importance of domestic service as a growing area of occupation and employment in contemporary South Asia is marked by a surprising silence about it in historical scholarship. The second volume of Servants’ Pasts covers the colonial and postcolonial periods. It lays out the intricate relationship between domestic work and employment in light of the growth of first, new moral regimes under colonialism and second, public avenues of employment under colonial institutions such as the municipality, school and hospital.


Für weitere Informationen siehe Rezension bei H/Soz/Kult.



Servants' Pasts: Sixteenth to Eighteenth Century, South Asia, Vol. 1

edited by Nitin Sinha, Nitin Varma and Pankaj Jha


Domestic servants have always been, and continue to be, ubiquitous in the households of middle and upper income rural and urban South Asia. They are also strikingly visible in art forms: paintings, sculptures, photographs, cinema, plays, stories, etc. Yet, they remain absent from scholarly research with very few recent exceptions.

Domestic service was an important category of labour and social relationships in early modern and colonial India but the domestic servant has largely remained absent from historians’ accounts of South Asia. Servants’ Pasts, Sixteenth to Eighteenth Century South Asia, Vol. 1, much like Vol. 2, covers a range of polities; it specifically explores the period from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, and provides untold accounts of the ideals and practices of master/mistress-servant relationships during that period.


For further information see review at H/Soz/Kult.



General Labour History of Africa

Workers, Employers and Governments, 20th–21st Centuries

edited by Stefano Bellucci and Andreas Eckert


General Labour History of Africa is a landmark in the study of labour history. It brings, for the first time, an African perspective within a global context to the study of labour and labour relations. The volume analyses key developments in the 20th century, such as the emergence of free wage labour; the transformation in labour relations; the role of capital and employers; labour agency and movements; the growing diversity of formal and informal or precarious labour; the meaning of work; and the impact of gender and age on the workplace.


For further information see review at H/Soz/Kult.


Familie, Arbeit und soziale Mobilität.

Ghanaische Perspektiven.

by Carola Lentz


The topic of labour saturates Carola Lentz‘ academic work since her first publication in manifold ways. In this essay she combines, again using the example of Ghana, labour and lifecycle – the central concepts of re:work – with the transformation of familial relationship networks and shows how families can function as the motor as well as the brake for the metamorphosis of the working world and social uplift. Her contribution uncloses new perspectives – not only on the topic of family. It also delineates how important the lifecycle can be for the understanding of labour.


»Deliverance revisted«

Der Triumph von Trump, die Liberalen Eliten und die weiße Zombie-Arbeiterklasse.

by Leon Fink


The essay at hand is not only a multifaceted analysis of the current social constellation in the United States from a historical perspective. It is also a plea for the massive importance still attached to the long-time marginalized research field of labour, labour condition and labour force.


Von der Sklaverei in die Prekarität.

Afrikanische Arbeitsgeschichte im globalen Kontext.

by Frederick Cooper


In this essay at hand Frederick Cooper draws a grim comparison: In the 18th and 19th century millions of Africans were shipped over the Atlantic by force to drudge on the plantations in America. Many of them died during the passage. Today, numerous Africans grasp the nettle of the moment and cross the ocean in order to find work. And many of them die. Migrants in former centuries were forced to mobility. However, present migrants are in a certain way “the freest of the free”. They went from Africa to Europe voluntarily, under enormous effort and with an immense risk. What links former and present migration, is the inequality of economic relations. Slave trade and labour migration in the 21st century are both the result of an intensified connection alongside a growing disparity between these two parts of the world.


Empire, Civil Society, and the Beginnings of Colonial Education in India

by Jana Tschurenev


Empire, Civil Society, and the Beginnings of Colonial Education in India tells a story of radical educational change. In the early nineteenth century, an imperial civil society movement promoted modern elementary ‘schools for all’. This movement included British, American, and German missionaries and Indian intellectuals and social reformers. They organized themselves in non-governmental organizations, which aimed to change Indian education. First, they introduced a new culture of schooling, centred on memorization, examination, and technocratic management. Second, they laid the ground for the building of the colonial system of education, which substituted indigenous education. Third, they broadened the social accessibility of schooling. However, for the nineteenth-century reformers, education for all did not mean equal education for all: elementary schooling became a means to teach different subalterns ‘their place’ in colonial society. Finally, the educational movement also furthered the building of a secular ‘national education’ in England. Studying these trajectories and developments in detail, this book contributes to a sharpening of the concept of ‘colonial education’ as one version of the modern nineteenth century grammar of schooling.


Parental well-being

Satisfaction with work, family life, and family policy in Germany and Japan

By Barbara Holthus und Hans Bertram (eds.)


"Pursuing happiness is not only idealistic, it is the world's best and perhaps only hope to avoid global catastrophe" (Global Happiness Policy Report 2018). With that, the report argues for happiness as overarching policy goal. This volume argues that parental well-being is well qualified to assume a central role for governments of industrially advanced nations that are in need of coping with the challenges of low fertility and societal aging.
More than 4000 mothers and fathers of young children in Germany and Japan have been surveyed in regard to their well-being and satisfaction with many aspects related to their work and family lives. The volume brings together 13 scholars to analyze this unique dataset.


Brüder, Bürger und Genossen. Die deutsche Arbeiterbewegung zwischen Klassenkampf und Bürgergesellschaft 1830-1870

By Jürgen Schmidt


Class struggle and civil society, political conflicts and the social aspects of associations: Jürgen Schmidt describes and explains in Brüder, Bürger und Genossen (Dietz) the multifaceted history of the origins of the German labour movement between the 1830s and the foundation of the German Empire in 1871. Craftsmen, wage labourers and intellectuals organised in political associations, parties, unions and cooperatives in these decades. They discussed, across national borders, revolutionary ideas as well as concepts of reform; they fought in the revolution of 1848, organised strikes, celebrated lavish feasts and were subject to persecution by the state. They remained a minority, but at the same time aiming at overcoming capitalism and establishing a new social and economic order. At the same time, they were seeking respectability in society. A small group of craftsmen, workers and intellectuals grew into a powerful labour movement during the course of the 19th century. To illustrate the vitality and diversity of these parties and associations, Jürgen Schmidt describes them from various points of views: as actors of an early civil society; as organisations of class struggle; as spaces of conflict, communication, culture, manhood and political work.


To be at Home. House, Work, and Self in the Modern World

Edited by James Williams und Felicitas Hentschke

Houses and homes are dynamic spaces within which people work to organize and secure their lives, livelihoods and relationships. Written by a team of renowned historians and anthropologists, and and accompanied by original photography by Maurice Weiss, To Be at Home: House,Work, and Self in the Modern World compares the ways people in different societies and historical periods strive to make and keep houses and homes under conditions of change, upheaval, displacement, impoverishment and violence. These conditions speak to the challenges of life in our modern world. The contributors of this volume position the home as a new nodal point between work, the self and the world to explore people’s creativity, agency and labour. Houses and homes prove complex and powerful concepts – if also often elusive – invoking places, persons, objects, emotions, values, attachments and fantasies. This book demonstrates how the relations between houses, work and the self have transformed dramatically and unpredictably under conditions of capitalism and modernity – and continue to change today.


Transfers of Belonging
Child Fostering in West Africa in the 20th Century


In Transfers of Belonging, Erdmute Alber traces the history of child fostering in northern Benin from the pre-colonial past to the present by pointing out the embeddedness of child foster practices and norms in a wider political process of change. Child fostering was, for a long time, not just one way of raising children, but seen as the appropriate way of doing so. This changed profoundly with the arrival of European ideas about birth parents being the ‘right’ parents, but also with the introduction of schooling and the differentiation of life chances. Besides providing deep historical and ethnographical insights, Transfers of Belonging offers a new theoretical frame for conceptualizing parenting.



Reconnecting State and Kinship

Edited by Tatjana Thelen and Erdmute Alber


"Arguing that the anthropology of kinship and political anthropology have become two distinct sub-disciplines, mirroring the assumed dichotomy of traditional versus modern societies, this edited volume sets out to demonstrate the theoretical weakness that arises of such positions. Through excellent chapters by experienced anthropologists, we are shown the fallacy of the separation. Kinship and politics emerge as mutually constitutive enriching our understanding of both."—Signe Howell, University of Oslo



Global Histories of Work

Edited by Andreas Eckert


Global Histories of Work is the first title in the new series "Work in Global and Historical Perspective". This collection of selected articles written by leading scholars in different disciplines provides both an introduction and numerous insights into themes, debates and methods of Global Labour History as they have been developed over the last years. The contributions to the volume discuss crucial historiographical developments; present different professions that have gained new attention in the context of an emerging Global Labour History; critically engage the boundaries of "free" labour and the ambiguities contained in this concept; and take up and historicize current debates about
"informal labour". Global Histories of Work will familiarize readers with a
burgeoning field of high academic, social, and political relevance.”
                                                                                                        DE GRUYTER

Arbeit und Kapitalismus

Edited by Jürgen Kocka and Jürgen Schmidt


This special issue Arbeit und Kapitalismus of “Geschichte und Gesellschaft”, edited by Jürgen Kocka and Jürgen Schmidt, deals with relations, tensions and convergences between global, national, regional and local histories of labour. Free and unfree labour in capitalism and related debates about the changing concept of working class, wage labor, domestic work, the informalization and precarity of work in past and present and changing life-course patterns are research arenas in this special issue to stimulate and intensify collaboration between the different scales, profiting from one another. Comparisons across time and across cultural borders are part of this volume as well as reflections on the fluidity of western concepts if they are applied in a global perspective. 

Slavery´s Capitalism - A New History of American Economic Development

Edited by Sven Beckert and Seth Rockman


"The intimate relationship between capitalism and slavery has been too-long dismissed, and with it, the centrality of African and African American labor to the foundation of our modern economic system. Slavery's Capitalism announces the emergence of a new generation of scholars whose detailed research into every nook and cranny of emerging capitalism reveals the inextricable links between the enslavement of people of African descent and today's global economy."
Leslie Harris, Emory University


Workers of the World - Eine Globalgeschichte der Arbeit

Marcel van der Linden


The historiography on working people has taken a completely new turn in recent years: Labour History left its Eurocentric roots behind and was ‘globalised’. Historians have focused comprehensively and systematically on labour relations in Asia, Africa, and Latin America ever since, shedding also new light on European social history in the process. Workers of the World (Campus) – Marcel van der Linden’s groundbreaking work on Global Labour History – is now available in German for the first time.



Arbeit im Lebenslauf

The distribution of Work and Non-Work during the life course varies according to historical epoch, regional context, and class. Arbeit im Lebenslauf. Verhandlungen von (erwerbs-)biographischer Normalität [“Work during the Life Course. Negotiating the Norm in (Occupational) Biographies”] (transcript) is a collection of essays challenging well-established conceptions about Work and its norms by seeking to answer how individuals and groups relate to these norms as well as to transformations in the social and economic organization of Work: How does it impact their behaviour if they do not meet the standards of these normative conceptions or the fictions thereof? How are deviations, competition, and change played out? The contributors allow a multidisciplinary focus on current debates about work, precarity, and social change.

Arbeit im Lebenslauf is co-edited by Therese Garstenauer, Thomas Hübel,

and Klara Löffler.

Rendre la justice à Amid

In Rendre la justice à Amid (Brill), Yavuz Aykan analyses the legal life of the city of Amid, the capital of Ottoman Diyarbekir province in the 18th century. Making use of court records from the cities of Amid, Harput and Mardin, he explores the centrality of the qadi, the provincial governor, and the provincial mufti to law enforcement. By tracing the genealogies of legal texts used by the mufti for fatwa production, Aykan maps out the broader transformations of various judicial interpretations in their journey from Greater Syria to Transoxiana and the Golden Horde, and finally into Ottoman legal praxis. As such, this book offers a far more historicized approach to the multiple actors and hierarchies of juridical systems operating in this provincial setting.




Anthropologie der Arbeit

In his book Anthropologie der Arbeit (Springer VS) Gerd Spittler studies the unity and diversity of work on the basis of ethnographic case studies. The spectrum of the forms of work ranges from wage labour, hunters and collectors, farmers and shepherds through family economy and domestic work to child labour.







Arbeiter in der Moderne

In Arbeiter in der Moderne (Campus) Jürgen Schmidt traces the history of workers, their working conditions, their behavioural patterns and values, their life environment and their organisations. The author demonstrates how context-specific the efforts of the working people were in the 19th and 20th century to represent their interests in the world of modern capitalism. In light of this perspective the historicity of some the central features of contemporary 21st century working societies becomes more evident.








Anthropological Perspectives on Care

Anthropological Perspectives on Care (Palgrave Macmillan) looks at the notion of care from an anthropological perspective. Complementing earlier approaches, the editors Erdmute Alber and Heike Drotbohm argue that an interpretation of care in relation to three different concepts, namely work, kinship and the life-course, will facilitate empirical and conceptual distinctions between the different activities that are labeled as care.








The History of Labour Intermediation

Sigrid Wadauer is co-editor of The History of Labour Intermediation. Institutions and Finding Employment in Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries (Berghahn). The case studies in this volume investigate job search and placement practices in European countries, Australia, and India in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Taking an exploratory approach, the chapters illustrate different approaches to the history of employment and job searching, ranging from organizational and regulatory histories to the analysis of practices and autobiographical accounts.





Work and Culture in a Globalized World

The book Work and Culture in a Globalized World. From Africa to Latin America (Karthala) edited by Andreas Eckert, Babacar Fall and Ineke Phaf-Rheinberger, contains contributions to a comparative history of diverse forms and cultures of work. Focusing on Africa and Latin America, the book also addresses issues relating to organizations, how to describe history, resistance and creativity, the impact of local cultures as well as youth expectations.

Table of Contents






One Hundred Years of Servitude

Rana P. Behal´s study One Hundred Years of Servitude. Political Economy of Tea Plantations in Colonial Assam (Tulika Books) presents a hundred-year history of tea plantations in the Assam (Brahmaputra) Valley during British colonial rule in India. In six chapters it examines the time between the 1840s and the middle of the 20th century. More than two million migrant labourers worked at that time under conditions of indentured servitude in these tea plantations, producing tea for an increasingly profitable global market.






Port Cities and Global Legacies

Alice Mah advances in Port Cities and Global Legacies. Urban Identity, Waterfront Work, and Radicalism (Palgrave Macmillan) the concept of 'global legacies', which oscillates between the positive aspects of 'heritage' and the negative connotations of 'legacy'. This tension lies at the heart of her study of enduring forms, processes, or ideas of the 'global' that shape urban identity and politics. In particular, port cities, with their distinctive global dynamics, long histories of casual labour, large migrant communities, and roles within international trade networks, exhibit fascinating global legacies.






Violent Intermediaries

Michelle R. Moyd's study entitled Violent Intermediaries. African Soldiers, Conquest, and Everyday Colonialism (Ohio University Press) in German East Africa examines the role of Askari in the establishment and maintenance of German colonial rule in East Africa. The contextualization of the actors in broad historical processes in the nineteenth century Africa allows Moyd to convey a sensitive portrayal of the Askaris: On the one hand as an emerging local elite in close proximity to the German colonial power and on the other as victims of colonial violence.