Volume 61 Special Issue (December 2016)


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Karin Hofmeester, Gijs Kessler, and Christine Moll-Murata. Conquerors, Employers, and Arbiters: States and Shifts in Labour Relations 1500–2000, Introduction.
The introductory article to this volume offers an analytical framework for the capacities in which states have historically affected labour relations. The framework captures the full range of possible manifestations of state power, including early states, empires, regional authorities, and city states. It distinguishes between the state as a direct actor or participant, carrying out tasks deemed essential for its functioning, and the state as an arbiter, redistributor, or regulator. As conquerors or employers, states are confronted with a basic dilemma: how to extract and allocate the labour resources required to accomplish state tasks. Borrowing from Charles Tilly, the two broad categories of capital and coercion are used as a heuristic device to bring order to the ways in which states have solved this dilemma. Contrary to Tilly’s trajectories of state formation, states’ reliance on capital or coercion is subject to a great degree of flexibility, both over time and across space. In their capacities as mediators and regulators, modern states came to have an even more profound impact on labour relations, as state building moved away from the single focus on organizing the extraction of resources to a wider mission of fostering welfare, economic development, and human capital formation.

Christine Moll-Murata. Tributary Labour Relations in China During the Ming-Qing Transition (Seventeenth to Eighteenth Centuries).
This study analyses the shifts in labour relations due to state intervention, first during the conquest of the Ming empire between 1600 and 1644 by its Manchurian contenders, and thereafter until about 1780, as the Manchurian Qing dynasty established itself and drove the Chinese empire to its greatest expansion. The main focus lies on the socio-military formation of the Eight Banners, the institution that, for about 200 years, epitomized the domination of the Chinese empire by a small elite group of about two per cent of the population. These findings will be contextualized in the larger setting of labour relations of the early and mid-Qing, when state intervention occurred in the form of arbitration in labour conflicts, but also, in a much more aggressive manner, in the decimation of the Qing rulers’ Dzungharian rivals. In the framework of Charles Tilly’s paradigm of capital versus coercion, while both are present in the Chinese case the capital-oriented path seems more distinct.

Dmitry Khitrov. Tributary Labour in the Russian Empire in the Eighteenth Century: Factors in Development.
This article addresses the system of state-organized and state-controlled tributary labour in the Russian Empire in the eighteenth century. On the basis of the taxpayers’ registry of 1795, it focuses on the social groups obliged to perform military service or labour directly for the polity. They included the numerous “service class” of the southern and eastern frontier regions, including Russian, Ukrainian (mainly Cossack), and indigenous (Bashkir and Kalmyk) communities, and the group of pripisnye, peasants “bound” to industries and shipyards to work for their taxes. The rationale behind the use of this type of labour relation was, on the one hand, the need of the state to secure the support of labour in distant and poorly populated regions, and, on the other, that the communes of labourers saw performing work for the state as a strong guarantee of their landowning privileges.

Raquel Gil Montero and Paula C. Zagalsky. Colonial Organization of Mine Labour in Charcas (Present-Day Bolivia) and Its Consequences (Sixteenth to the Seventeenth Centuries).
This article analyses the changes in the organization of labour during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in colonial Charcas, present-day Bolivia, focusing on the role that different colonial authorities played in this process and its consequences. The Spanish took advantage of the pre-Hispanic organization of labour from the beginning of their conquest. However, in a colonial context, labour relations changed significantly, and the architect of those alterations was Viceroy Francisco de Toledo. We examine the transformations in mine labour carried out by the Spanish colonial polity; these had a significant effect not only on mining, but also on all labour relations in the southern colonial Andes.

Rossana Barragán Romano. Dynamics of Continuity and Change: Shifts in Labour Relations in the Potosí Mines (1680–1812).
Labour relations in the silver mines of Potosí are almost synonymous with the mita, a system of unfree work that lasted from the end of the sixteenth century until the beginning of the nineteenth century. However, behind this continuity there were important changes, but also other forms of work, both free and self-employed. The analysis here is focused on how the “polity” contributed to shape labour relations, especially from the end of the seventeenth century and throughout the eighteenth century. This article scrutinizes the labour policies of the Spanish monarchy on the one hand, which favoured certain economic sectors and regions to ensure revenue, and on the other the initiatives both of mine entrepreneurs and workers – unfree, free, and self-employed – who all contributed to changing the system of labour.

Filipa Ribeiro da Silva. Political Changes and Shifts in Labour Relations in Mozambique, 1820s–1920s.
This article examines the main changes in the policies of the Portuguese state in relation to Mozambique and its labour force during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, stemming from political changes within the Portuguese Empire (i.e. the independence of Brazil in 1821), the European political scene (i.e. the Berlin Conference, 1884–1885), and the Southern African context (i.e. the growing British, French, and German presence). By becoming a principle mobilizer and employer of labour power in the territory, an allocator of labour to neighbouring colonial states, and by granting private companies authority to play identical roles, the Portuguese state brought about important shifts in labour relations in Mozambique. Slave and tributary labour were replaced by new forms of indentured labour (initially termed serviçais and latter contratados) and forced labour (compelidos). The period also saw an increase in commodified labour in the form of wage labour (voluntários), self-employment among peasant and settler farmers, and migrant labour to neighbouring colonies.

Elise van Nederveen Meerkerk. Grammar of Difference? The Dutch Colonial State, Labour Policies, and Social Norms on Work and Gender, c.1800–1940.
This article investigates developments in labour policies and social norms on gender and work from a colonial perspective. It aims to analyse the extent to which state policies and societal norms influenced gendered labour relations in the Netherlands and its colony, the Netherlands Indies (present-day Indonesia). In order to investigate the influence of the state on gender and household labour relations in the Dutch empire, this paper compares as well as connects social interventions related to work and welfare in the Netherlands and the Netherlands Indies from the early nineteenth century up until World War II. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, work was seen as a means to morally discipline the poor, both in the Netherlands and the Netherlands Indies. Parallel initiatives were taken by Johannes van den Bosch, who, in 1815, established “peat colonies” in the Netherlands, aiming to transform the urban poor into industrious agrarian workers, and in 1830 introduced the Cultivation System in the Netherlands Indies, likewise to increase the industriousness of Javanese peasants. While norms were similar, the scope of changing labour relations was much vaster in the colony than in the metropole.
During the nineteenth century, ideals and practices of the male breadwinner started to pervade Dutch households, and children’s and women’s labour laws were enacted. Although in practice many Dutch working-class women and children continued to work, their official numbers dropped significantly. In contrast to the metropole, the official number of working (married) women in the colony was very high, and rising over the period. Protection for women and children was introduced very late in the Netherlands Indies and only under intense pressure from the international community. Not only did Dutch politicians consider it “natural” for Indonesian women and children to work, their assumptions regarding inherent differences between Indonesian and Dutch women served to justify the protection of the latter: a fine example of what Ann Stoler and Frederick Cooper have called a “grammar of difference”.

Takuma Melber. The Labour Recruitment of Local Inhabitants as Romusha in Japanese- Occupied South East Asia.
During World War II, Japan, as occupying power, mobilized thousands of labourers in South East Asia. While the history of Allied prisoners of war (POWs) deployed as forced labourers on the Burma-Siam “Death Railway” is well known, the coercive labour recruitment of local inhabitants as so-called romusha has, until today, remained an almost completely untold story. This article introduces romusha, with a particular focus on the Burma-Siam Railway, and presents the methods used by the occupying powers to recruit local inhabitants in Java, Malaya, and Singapore, initially as volunteers, and increasingly using force. We look, too, at the tactics and strategies of avoidance the locals were able to deploy. The article offers insights into the poor working conditions on the railway, discusses the body count, and gives an idea of the huge impact of the forced labour recruitment not only in economic terms, but also in terms of the effect it had on the social structure at both the micro and macro levels.

Fernando Mendiola. The Role of Unfree Labour in Capitalist Development: Spain and its Empire, Nineteenth to the Twenty-First Centuries.
This article contributes to the debate on the persistence of forced labour within capitalist development. It focuses on a country, Spain, which has been deeply rooted in the global economy, firstly as a colonial metropolis, and later as part of the European Union. In the first place, I analyse the different modalities of unfree labour that are included in the taxonomy established by the Global Collaboratory on the History of Labour Relations, taking into account the different political regimes in which they are inserted. Therefore, the legal framework regarding unfree labour is analysed for four different political contexts: liberal revolution with colonial empire (1812–1874); liberal parliamentarism with colonial empire (1874–1936); civil war and fascist dictatorship, with decolonization (1936–1975); and parliamentary democracy within globalization (1975–2014). The article goes on to deal with the importance of the main economic reasons driving the demand for forced labour: relative labour shortage and the search for increasing profits. In the conclusion, and taking the Spanish case as a basis, I suggest a series of challenges for furthering the global debate on the role of forced labour under capitalism.

M. Erdem Kadayı. Working for the State in the Urban Economies of Ankara, Bursa, and Salonica: From Empire to Nation State, 1840s–1940s.
In most cases, and particularly in the cases of Greece and Turkey, political transformation from multinational empire to nation state has been experienced to a great extent in urban centres. In Ankara, Bursa, and Salonica, the cities selected for this article, the consequences of state-making were drastic for all their inhabitants; Ankara and Bursa had strong Greek communities, while in the 1840s Salonica was the Jewish metropolis of the eastern Mediterranean, with a lively Muslim community. However, by the 1940s, Ankara and Bursa had lost almost all their non-Muslim inhabitants and Salonica had lost almost all its Muslims. This article analyses the occupational structures of those three cities in the mid-nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth, tracing the role of the state as an employer and the effects of radical political change on the city-level historical dynamics of labour relations.

Max Koch. The Role of the State in Employment and Welfare Regulation: Sweden in the European Context.
This paper examines the changing role of the Swedish state in employment and welfare regulation in an environment that has become more market driven, commodified, and Europeanized. It begins with a theoretical reflection on the role of the state in capitalist development and a review of the recent debate on the spatiality of state regulation: the state as employer, redistributor, and arbiter, and as a shaper of employment relations and welfare. In the latter role, the state is conceptualized as employer, guarantor of employment rights, and procedural regulator, as intermediating neo-corporatist processes, as macroeconomic manager, and as welfare state. From this theoretical basis, the paper identifies changes in state employment and welfare regulation by comparing two periods: the original and mainly nation-state-based founding stage of the Swedish welfare and employment model as it developed after the 1938 Saltsjöbaden Agreement, and the period after Sweden’s accession to the European Union in 1995.

Raquel Varela. State Policies Towards Precarious Work: Employment and Unemployment in Contemporary Portugal.
In the context of the Global Collaboratory on the History of Labour Relations, in this article, we relate the analysis of precarious work in Portugal to the state, in particular, as a direct participant functioning as both employer and mediator. In the second part, we present a short overview of the evolution of casualization in the context of employment and unemployment in contemporary Portugal (1974–2014). In the third section, we discuss state policies on labour relations, particularly in the context of the welfare state. Finally, we compare this present analysis with Swedish research done from the perspective of the state as a direct participant and mediator over the past four decades.