New WG Labour In Mining – Network ELHN

A New Working Group “Labour in Mining” is Born !!!

The founding meeting of the ELHN took place at the International Institute of Social History (IISH) on 12 October 2013. The forty scholars who gathered in Amsterdam, belonging to research institutions, archives and journals based in various European countries, felt the need to increase the cooperation among labour history scholars, share knowledge and (digital) material, create a platform for future collective research, and organize conferences and seminars. The Network includes Europe-based scholars (professors, post-doc and PhD researchers, post-graduate students) but seeks to connect with scholars based outside Europe.

The 1st ELHN Conference was held in Turin in 2015 and 2nd ELHN Conference was held in Paris in 2017. In order to structure the network and overcome fragmentation, the key-role of working groups was underlined. Some working groups were proposed and took shape. Among others: Long term perspectives on remuneration; Pre-industrial Labour; Feminist Labour History; Industrial heritage and structural change; workers politics and social movements; Imperial labour history; Labour in mining.

The ELHN Working Group “Labour in Mining”

The EHLN working group “Labour in Mining” aims at creating and expanding existing, more or less formal and informal contacts and networks of scholars with an interest in labour in mining sector in Europe and around the world.

Mining has special characteristics not only for its kind of jobs (typically in the underground), its morbidity and workplace accidents, its location linked to the existence of resources and migratory phenomena, the high potential for conflict and harsh working conditions. Its peculiarity has given to labour markets of the sector a kind of isolation in relation to other productive activities.

These characteristics have given a particular evolution, reproducing itself internally (through the own families), and perpetuating cultural moulds that have continued along time. The study of the evolution of the labour relations in mining is useful not only for knowing the transformations of labour in this sector, but also for elaborating more our knowledge of labour history in general, and in some labour markets, characterized by some grade of isolation, in particular.

On the labour activities in mining, we have a wide literature in the past and in the present. It is a topic on which it has been done an important work compiling sources and research. But above all it suffers from having been focused in a local scope and having formed several cliché on the miner´s behaviour. Besides, there are some elements hardly studied. As some examples, the role of the women in the direct activities and in the preservation of the living conditions in the mining hubs; the incidence of professional illnesses (silicosis, hydrargirism, hookworm, lead poisonism, etc.) and, specially, a European´s lack of vision about the sector as a whole, relating the evolution of the more relevant mining countries and hubs.

We would like to discuss research related to a broad range of themes and concepts in economic, social and cultural labour history of mining including but not limited to the following:

  • The intersection of class, race, gender, age, global inequality, etc. in labour in mining; Dual work (agricultural and mining), migrations, discrimination.
  • Labour relations: labour organisation, developing of the wage earner work, wages and remuneration systems, hiring and scientific organisation of labour.
  • Technological development and evolution of the job markets: from the steam to the electricity, from the gravimetric concentration systems to the differential flotation, the underground work and the open-cast work, labour problems, incidence in the health and conflicts, technological change and mining conjunctures.
  • Living conditions and inequality. Occupational health and safety in mining: mortality, morbidity, pollution and sanitary institutions.
  • Mining communities: characteristics, problems, urban penalty.
  • Strategies of the management, working movement, industrial paternalism, truck system, conflicts, trade unions.
  • Industrial archaeology of mining activities, immaterial patrimony, culture.
  • Archives of mining activities.

We wish to contribute in the relations between the researchers in this field, in the establishment of research lines and a frame to exchange information and knowledge, publications and other initiatives in this field. Moreover, we are offering a support to databases download and consultation on the mining labour, accesible for the Academy. We also aim at the exchange of knowledge about primary sources, archives, and literature related to the history of labour in mining.

The WG on “Labour in Mining” wish to exchange knowledge, to organize meetings and workshops, to organize and design collective projects, to participate with sessions in the 3rd ELHN Conference in Amsterdam in 2019 (19-21 September).

The coordinators of the Working Group are:

Leda Papastefanaki (lpapast@uoi.gr), associate professor of “Economic and Social History” at the University of Ioannina, Greece and collaborate faculty member at IMS/FORTH, scientific responsible of the research project “Mining Landscapes in Greece, 19th-20th c.”. She has published on industrial and mining history, labour history and gender in Greece (19th-20th centuries).

Miguel Á. Pérez de Perceval Verde (perceval@um.es), professor of “History and Economic Institutions” at the University of Murcia and principal investigator of the project “Business history, markets and productive development in contemporary Spanish mining”. He has published on different aspects of work activity in the mines.

Francesca Sanna (francesca.sanna10@gmail.com), is PhD candidate in History at Paris Diderot University (ED 382, UFR GHES, Lab LIED). She works on scientific management in European mining industry. Graduated with a double MA in History (Paris 7 and Bologna University) and a Specialisation degree in Industrial Heritage Management (Padua University).

If you are interested in joining the Working Group on “Labour in Mining”, please fill in the attached form at this link 

All good wishes,

Leda, Miguel, and Francesca

3 May 2018


Francesca Sanna

PhD student in History at Paris Diderot University (Paris 7, ED 382, UFR GHES, Lab LIED)and Coordinator of the WG "Labour in Mining" (ELHN Network). Personal research project about scientific management and its application to european mining industry. Double Master Degree at Paris 7 and Bologna Universities. Specialization Degree in Industrial Heritage Management at Padua University.

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