Call for papers: Transnational Labour Rights Activism across Asia and Beyond, conference at the Institute for Social Movements at the Ruhr-University Bochum, 17-18 September 2015, organizers: Sabrina Zajak, Nicola Piper and Saida Ressel

The Institute for Social Movements at the Ruhr-University Bochum will host the international conference from September 17th to 18th 2015, with speakers from Asia, the US and across Europe.

The conference aims to bring together a group of international renowned researchers as well as early stage career scientists to discuss and bring forward a highly policy-relevant research theme that has not received sufficient attention in current scholarship: transnational labour rights activism. We see the following characteristics as core features of transnational labour rights activism: (a) coordination and conflict between trade unions and NGOs; (b) combination of insider and outsider strategies (institutionalized and non-institutionalized politics); (c) multiple targets and complex boomerang patterns. While there are many conferences and publications on the governance of global supply chains, transnational private regulation or cross border trade unions cooperation, there is no systematic overview on how different types of labor rights organizations (trade unions and NGOs) coordinate and struggle across Asian and non-Asian countries for improving working conditions in Asian suppliers.

We invite papers which present the latest results on, and innovative thinking around, the emergence, development and outcomes of transnational labour rights activism across Asia and other countries. The conference -cum-publication project seeks papers which contribute to the conceptualization of transnational labour rights activism as a multi-scalar phenomenon including activists from at least one Asian country in the analysis. Each article should theorize an aspect around the relationship of different activists and activist organizations (NGOs, social movement organizations, trade unions), and how they combine or organize complex strategizing with multiple targets (companies, states, regional and global governing institutions).

In specific the conference has the following aims:

  1. to discuss research papers prepared by participants, bringing together new empirical evidence on transnational labour rights activism in an economically highly relevant region (Asia);
  2. to construct and exchange theoretical and conceptual frameworks in the field of mobilization and organization, globalization and governance;
  3. to discuss policy implications of the possibilities and challenges of labour internationalism against the backdrop of on-going international economic crisis with civil society organizations and academics;
  4. to prepare a publication (guest-edited special journal issue, to be targeted journals are international political sociology, third world quarterly, or global labor journal)

Paper proposals of ca. 250 words should be sent to saida.ressel(at) by 22nd of June 2015. Colleagues will be informed beginning of July on whether their proposal has been accepted. There is no registration fee for the workshop and all participants will be provided with coffee/tea breaks and lunches.