Volume 58 part 2 (August 2013)


Peter Cole. No Justice, No Ships Get Loaded: Political Boycotts on the San Francisco Bay and Durban Waterfronts.
Using a comparative methodology, this essay examines how and why longshore workers in both the San Francisco Bay area and Durban demonstrate a robust sense of working-class internationalism and solidarity. Longshore workers are more inclined than most to see their immediate, local struggles in larger, even global, contexts. Literally for decades, workers in both ports used their power to advocate for racial justice at home and in solidarity with social movements globally. While such notions might seem outdated in the twenty-first century, as unions have been on the decline for some decades, longshore workers grounded their ideals in the reality that they still occupied a central position in global trade. Hence, they combined their leftist and anti-racist ideological beliefs with a pragmatic understanding of their central role in the global economy. While not the norm, these longshore workers’ attitudes and actions demand attention, as they challenge the notion that workers in recent decades are powerless to shape their world.

Matt Perry. In Search of “Red Ellen” Wilkinson Beyond Frontiers and Beyond the Nation State.
This article reconsiders the life of Ellen Wilkinson (1891–1947) – British Minister of Education from 1945 to 1947 and leader of the Jarrow Crusade of 1936 – by exploring the transnational aspect of her politics. It seeks to establish the significance of her transnational orientation and how this can allow us to complement and deepen existing understandings of her. Drawing on the literature on transnational activist networks, it outlines the complexity of transnational networks and her repertoire of transnational political practice. Without serious attention to this global dimension of her politics, our understanding of Wilkinson is attenuated and distorted. Crucially, the heroic construction of “Red Ellen” in both labourist and socialist-feminist narratives has obscured her second radicalization (1932–1936) and the sharpness of her metamorphosis into a mainstream Labour Party figure in 1939–1940.

Marcel Hoogenboom. Transnational Unemployment Insurance: The Inclusion and Exclusion of Foreign Workers in Labour Unions’ Unemployment Insurance Funds in The Netherlands (c.1900–1940).
In the early twentieth century, like many of their European counterparts, labour unions in the Netherlands established mutual unemployment insurance funds for their members. Various funds made agreements with labour unions in a number of European countries to recognize each other’s insurance schemes, enabling union members to work in the Netherlands without losing their entitlement to benefits accumulated in their home countries, and vice versa. Whereas up until the 1930s some of the alliances between Dutch and foreign funds had flourished, in the 1930s the number of non-Dutch workers in the Netherlands making use of such agreements decreased drastically. This article analyses those transnational alliances and explores various causes for their demise, concluding that in the 1930s formal regulation of foreign labour by the Dutch government substantially reduced the number of potential foreign members of insurance funds while government interference in unemployment insurance abroad, and especially in Germany, made the transnational agreements effectively void.

Christian G. De Vito and Alex Lichtenstein. Writing a Global History of Convict Labour.
This bibliographic essay seeks to contribute to the understanding of convict labour from a global and long-term perspective. First the conditions conducive to the emergence and transformation of convict labour are addressed by framing this coercive labour form within broader classifications of labour relations and by discussing its connection with the problem of governmentality. Subsequently, an overview of the literature is undertaken in the form of a journey across time, space, and different regimes of punishment. Finally, the limitations of the available literature are discussed, the possibility of a longer-term (pre-1500) and global history of convict labour is considered, and some theoretical and methodological approaches are suggested that could favour this task.