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Titles for May Day

May Day, also called International Workers’ Day, is observed in many countries on May 1. It commemorates the historic struggles and gains of worker and labor movements worldwide.

In 1889, an international federation of socialist groups and trade unions designated May 1 as a day to support workers, falling on the anniversary of the 1886 Haymarket Riot in Chicago. Over time, the previous rural, pagan affiliations of May 1 gave way to modern associations with the labor movement. While the day continues to evolve with passing paradigm shifts—Labor Day moving to early September in the U.S., the appropriation of the day in Nazi Germany, etc.—it remains a time to celebrate workers and the ways workers have shaped social and political systems.

This May Day, browse the following titles related to labor history and social movements below. Introductions to all released titles are freely available for direct download.

International Studies in Social History 

General Editor: 
Marcel van der Linden, International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam 

Published in Association with the International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam 

Published under the auspices of the International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam, this series offers transnational perspectives on labor and working-class history. For a long time, labor historians have been working within national interpretive frameworks. But interest in studies contrasting different national and regional experiences and studying cross-border interactions has been increasing in recent years. This series is designed to act as a forum for these new approaches. 

“The series has the laudable and useful aim of offering transnational perspectives on labour and working-class history in order to facilitate the burgeoning interest in comparing national and regional experiences and contexts as well as cross-border interactions. The International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam is to be congratulated in sponsoring the production of these excellent volumes … long may this particular endeavour continue.”   ·  Social History 

A Comparative Labour History from Empires to Nation-States, 1840–1940
Edited by Leda Papastefanaki and M. Erdem Kabadayı

As was the case in many other countries, it was only in the early years of this century that Greek and Turkish labour historians began to systematically look beyond national borders to investigate their intricately interrelated histories. The studies in Working in Greece and Turkey provide an overdue exploration of labour history on both sides of the Aegean, before as well as after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. Deploying the approaches of global labour history as a framework, this volume presents transnational, transcontinental, and diachronic comparisons that illuminate the shared history of Greece and Turkey.

Introduction and Historiographical Essay: Greek and Turkish Economic and Social History, and Labour History

Gender at the Crossroads of Home, Family, and Business from the Early Modern Era to the Present
Edited by Raffaella Sarti, Anna Bellavitis, and Manuela Martini

Every society throughout history has defined what counts as work and what doesn’t. And more often than not, those lines of demarcation are inextricable from considerations of gender. What Is Work? offers a multi-disciplinary approach to understanding labor within the highly gendered realm of household economies. Drawing from scholarship on gender history, economic sociology, family history, civil law, and feminist economics, these essays explore the changing and often contested boundaries between what was and is considered work in different Euro-American contexts over several centuries, with an eye to the ambiguities and biases that have shaped mainstream conceptions of work across all social sectors.


Time and the Foundations of Industrial Socialism in Romania
Alina-Sandra Cucu
Foreword by Don Kalb

“By digging out less known and therefore more valuable archive information and combining it with an ethnographic study, the book powerfully demonstrates the importance of the local context. The dystopia of communism and socialism is addressed through the lenses of anthropology and sociology… Without this excellent contribution delivered by Alina-Sandra Cucu, one can get only piecemeal information about planning labour and eventually daily life in socialist Romania. Therefore, this book is a must-read.” • Eurasian Geography and Economics


Gender and Work in France and Germany, 1900–Present
Edited by Isabelle Berrebi-Hoffmann, Olivier Giraud, Léa Renard, and Theresa Wobbe

Despite the wealth of empirical research currently available on the interrelationships of gender and labor, we still know comparatively little about the forms of classification and categorization that have helped shape these social phenomena over time. Categories in Context seeks to enrich our understanding of how cognitive categories such as status, law, and rights have been produced, comprehended, appropriated, and eventually transformed by relevant actors. By focusing on specific developments in France and Germany through a transnational lens, this volume produces insights that can be applied to a wide variety of political, social, and historical contexts.

Introduction: Categories of Gender and Work in Context. Ways Toward a Research Agenda

For more International Studies in Social History volumes, view the full series here. 

Protest, Culture & Society 

Kathrin Fahlenbrach, Institute for Media and Communication, University of Hamburg, Germany 
Martin Klimke, New York University Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates 
Joachim Scharloth, Waseda University, Japan 

Protest movements have been recognized as significant contributors to processes of political participation and transformations of culture and value systems, as well as to the development of both a national and transnational civil society. This series brings together the various innovative approaches to phenomena of social change, protest and dissent which have emerged in recent years from an interdisciplinary perspective. It contextualizes social protest and cultures of dissent in larger political processes and socio-cultural transformations by examining the influence of historical trajectories and the response of various segments of social, political and legal institutions on a national and international level. In doing so, the series offers a more comprehensive and multi-dimensional view of historical and cultural change in the 20th and 21st centuries. 

The Aesthetics of Street Politics
Edited by Ricardo Campos, Andrea Pavoni, and Yiannis Zaimakis

“This compelling, timely volume makes a significant contribution to the growing body of scholarship on graffiti and wall art and does so in a way that puts such scholarship in critical conversation with geography, urban studies, sociology, political theory, and social movements research. An engaging and important book—highly recommended.” • Jeff Ferrell, author of Crimes of Style: Urban Graffiti and the Politics of Criminality

Introduction: Political Graffiti in Critical Time

The Unfinished Fight against Austerity in Portugal
Edited by Renato Miguel Carmo and José Alberto Vasconcelos Simões

After over a decade of the austerity measures that followed the 2008 financial crisis—entailing severe, unpopular policies that have galvanized opposition and frayed social ties—what lies next for European societies? Portugal offers an interesting case for exploring this question, as a nation that was among the hardest hit by austerity and is now seeking a fresh path forward. This collection brings together sociologists, social movement specialists, political scientists, and other scholars to look specifically at how Portuguese youth have navigated this politically and economically difficult period, negotiating uncertain social circumstances as they channel their discontent into protest and collective action.


A Companion
Edited by Kathrin Fahlenbrach, Martin Klimke, and Joachim Scharloth

“This volume definitely provides an important starting point: It helps explain how different protest movements construct their own reality, use media in novel ways, organize actions across all spheres of public life, and involve various representations, their very own language, as well as different forms of rule breaking. And it repeatedly reminds us how much work there still is to be done—how little we actually know about why and how protest occurs.” • German Politics and Society


For more Protest, Culture & Society volumes, view the full series here. 

Related Titles

The Reich Ministry of Labour in Nazi Germany, 1933–1945Edited by Alexander Nützenadel
Translated from the German by Alex Skinner

Reviews for the German Edition:

“The results of this broad archival research venture are as impressive as they are innovative, especially since—unlike the thoroughly researched topic of Nazi state social and labor policy—the Reich Ministry of Labor comes into the spotlight for the first time.” • Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

“One reads with interest the descriptions of institutional affairs, housing, pension insurance, labor law, and developments after 1945. The strength of the study lies in its presentation of new results based on intensive archival work by scholarly collaborators.” • Süddeutsche Zeitung


From the American Rust Belt to the Developing World
Paul A. Shackel

The racialization of immigrant labor and the labor strife in the coal and textile communities in northeastern Pennsylvania appears to be an isolated incident in history. Rather this history can serve as a touchstone, connecting the history of the exploited laborers to today’s labor in the global economy. By drawing parallels between the past and present – for example, the coal mines of the nineteenth-century northeastern Pennsylvania and the sweatshops of the twenty-first century in Bangladesh – we can have difficult conversations about the past and advance our commitment to address social justice issues.


Work in European Cinema from the 1960s to the Present
Ewa Mazierska

“What Mazierska’s invaluable book demonstrates…[is] the importance of expanding our investigations of work into unemployment, leisure and idleness, in order to help us understand the ongoing privileging of precarisation by capital, as well as to help us dismantle the unquestioned edification of today’s ‘labour idols.’” • Studies in European Cinema

Full Text

Labor Unrest in Palestine/Israel, 1899-1951
David De Vries

“The book has many qualities. It is well written and well structured, and it hosts several tables and figures, which are quite useful for the reader. In terms of research, De Vries skillfully combines primary sources – documents identified in several Israeli and British archives, and a vast amount of press (all the most relevant newspapers of the time have been consulted) — with the existing historiography, with which the author engages in a very productive way… this is certainly a very good and useful book, which sheds light on an interesting and relevant topic and allows a better understanding of the process of nation – and the statebuilding in Palestine/Israel.” · Middle East Media and Book Reviews


Machines, Land, Money and Commoning in the Making of the Working Class
Massimiliano Mollona

Volta Redonda is a Brazilian steel town founded in the 1940s by dictator Getúlio Vargas on an ex-coffee valley as a powerful symbol of Brazilian modernization. The city’s economy, and consequently its citizen’s lives, revolves around the Companha Siderurgica Nacional (CSN), the biggest industrial complex in Latin America. Although the glory days of the CSN have long passed, the company still controls life in Volta Redonda today, creating as much dispossession as wealth for the community. Brazilian Steel Town tells the story of the people tied to this ailing giant – of their fears, hopes, and everyday struggles.

Introduction: Brazilian Steel-Town and the Companhia Siderúrgica Nacional (CSN)

Mediterranean Guest Workers and their Families at Work and in the Neighbourhood, 1960-1980
Jozefien De Bock
Foreword by Leo Lucassen

Originally coined in 2001 in a report on racial tensions in the United Kingdom, the concept of “parallel lives” has become familiar in the European discourse on immigrant integration. There, it refers to what is perceived as the segregation of immigrant populations from the rest of society. However, the historical roots of this presumed segregation are rarely the focus of discussion. Combining quantitative analysis, archival research, and over one hundred oral history interviews, Parallel Lives Revisited explores the lives of immigrants from six Mediterranean countries in a postwar Belgian city to provide a fascinating account of how their experiences of integration have changed at work and in their neighborhoods across two decades.


Berghahn Journals

The Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Protest

Editors: Benjamin Abrams, University College London
Giovanni A. Travaglino, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Contention is dedicated to research on social protest, collective action and contentious politics. As a multidisciplinary journal, Contention’s mission is to bridge scholarly divides and promote knowledge exchange across a diverse audience of scholars in the social sciences and humanities.

A part of the Berghahn Open Anthro Collection!
Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology

Managing and Lead Editor: Luisa Steur, University of Amsterdam

Editor-at-Large: Don Kalb, University of Bergen

Focaal is a peer-reviewed journal advocating an approach that rests in the simultaneity of ethnography, processual analysis, local insights, and global vision. It is at the heart of debates on the ongoing conjunction of anthropology and history, as well as the incorporation of local research settings in the wider spatial networks of coercion, imagination, and exchange that are often glossed as “globalization” or “empire.”

Visit the Focaal Blog, an intellectually vibrant, socially astute, and genuinely cosmopolitan platform for the discussion of anthropological research.

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Stay tuned for the release of our new Salon B episode, “Labor,” coming later this month!

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  1. From Positive energy on 04 May 2020 at 1:03 pm

    Positive energy

    Berghahn Books – Titles for May Day

  2. From blog3004 on 11 May 2020 at 11:16 pm


    Berghahn Books – Titles for May Day