With IFWEA: International Federation of Worker Education Associations
Dean Michael Merrill, The Van Arsdale Center, SUNY Empire State College
Dean Susan J. Schurman, School of Labor & Management Relations, Rutgers—The State University of New Jersey
Deadline for ABSTRACTS of proposed papers: NOVEMBER 1, 2014
Notice of ACCEPTED PROPOSALS: no later than DECEMBER 15, 2014
Deadline for FIRST DRAFTS of proposed papers: JULY 1, 2015
Deadline for FINAL DRAFTS of proposed papers: JANUARY 2, 2016
Proposed publication date: FALL 2016
We have learned a great deal about the history of global working class in the modern era and about the economic, political, and social struggles that accompanied its rise. But we still know comparatively little about the educational institutions, relationships and practices working class movements have used to develop the capacity for sustained struggle, not to mention the ability to survive their defeats and institutionalize their victories.
To encourage a deeper understanding of these efforts, the editors of ILWCH (International Labor & Working-Class History) invite proposals for articles, interviews, review essays, documents, conference and archive reports, photo essays, and reflections on the role of worker education, both formal and informal, in the development of the global labor movement and its base communities.
We are especially concerned to receive proposals for papers that describe both the formal and informal educational practices that working people have pioneered to advance their own struggles and those that explore the intellectual and cultural achievements of working people that have emerged from these practices.
In every society in which workers’ movements have appeared, they have been concerned to provide their members with the knowledge, skills and perspectives required to live better lives and to be more effective advocates for themselves and their interests. In the service of these goals, the movements and their members have worked both to develop their own educational institutions and to secure access for all working people to the best educational opportunities their societies have to offer.
The following examples suggest the range of these important educational initiatives, of which there are many, and we invite proposals that explore them, and others like them, across the entire range:
In Great Britain, the Worker Education Association has provided hundreds of thousands of workers with access to a wide range of post-secondary courses and programs of study, while employing several of the best known English labor intellectuals of the 20th century, including G. D. H. Cole, Karl Polanyi, E. P. Thompson, and Raymond Williams.
In Sweden, following labor movement’s devastating defeat in a general strike of 1909, Swedish trade unionists and members of the Social Democratic Party pioneered the use of “study circles” as part of a self-conscious “education strategy” to counteract the growing influence of anarcho-syndicalist and Bolshevik rivals, which resulted ultimately in the peace pact of 1938 between the unions and the employers and laid the groundwork for the postwar “Swedish model.”
In Brazil, movements of independent trade unionists and dispossessed rural workers have nourished and been encouraged by innovative educational programs, including mass literacy campaigns of the sort pioneered by Paolo Freire, indigenous schools associated with the ecclesiastical base communities of liberation theology, and even industry-sponsored trade schools, such as the one in which Luiz (“Lula”) da Silva got his start.
In South Africa, the International Labour Research and Information Group, together with its allied community groups and organizations, provided continuing intellectual and educational support to trade union struggles and worker mobilizations, which deserves to be more widely known, as do other popular education efforts, such as the two volumes of Luli Callinicos’s A People’s History of South Africa, the first volume of which, Gold and Workers, was used by the National Miners Union in its membership education.
In India, the Self-Employed Women’s Association (or SEWA) was founded initially to provide educational and other assistance to women in the so-called “informal sector.” It has since grown to become one of the largest labor organizations in the world and continues to provide a wide range of educational services to its members and to encourage their pursuit of their own learning, both formal and informal.
Abstracts and inquiries should be addressed to the Editors at:
ILWCH c/o The Harry Van Arsdale Jr. Center for Labor Studies SUNY Empire State College 325 Hudson Street New York, NY 10013