Women, Work, and Activism

Chapters of an Inclusive History of Labor in the Long Twentieth Century
ISBN: 
978-963-386-441-8
cloth
$95.00 / €80.00 / £68.00
Publication date: 
2022
August, 368 pages, 7 tables, 1 chart

The thirteen critical and well-documented chapters of Women, Work, and Activism examine women’s labor struggle from late nineteenth-century Portuguese mutual societies to Yugoslav peasant women’s work in the 1930s, and from the Catalan labor movement under the Franco dictatorship to workplace democracy in the United States. The authors portray women’s labor activism in a wide variety of contexts including transnational organizing, feminist engagement with men-dominated trade unionism, long-distance migration, and the socialist workplace. The chapters address the involvement of working people in multiple and often unstable labor relations and in unpaid labor, as well as the role of the state and other institutions in shaping the history of women’s labor activism.

The book is an innovative contribution to both labor and gender history. It redefines the new labor history by focusing on the gendered political-social history of labor and by fully integrating the conceptual advances made by gender historians in the study of labor activism.

List of Acronyms … vii

List of Tables and Figures … xi

Acknowledgements .... xiii

Introduction: Thinking the History of Women’s Activism into Global Labor History / Eloisa Betti, Leda Papastefanaki, Marica Tolomelli, and Susan Zimmermann ....... 1

PART ONE

TOWARD INCLUSIVE FRAMINGS: WOMEN’S LABOR ACTIVISM IN MEN- AND WOMEN-DOMINATED CONTEXTS

Women in the Mutual Societies of Portugal from the End of the Nineteenth Century to the 1930s / Virgínia Baptista and Paulo Marques Alves … 35

The Female Staff in the PTT International between Trade Unionism and Feminism from the Early Twentieth Century to the Interwar Period / Laura Savelli … 59

Women and the Labor Movement under a Dictatorship: Comisiones Obreras (Workers’ Commissions) in Greater Barcelona during Franco’s Dictatorship and the Transition to Democracy (1964–1981) / Nadia Varo Moral ... 81

“Traditionally Reserved for Men”: Australian Trade Unions and the 1970s Working Women’s Campaign for Liberation / Diane Kirkby, Lee-Ann Monk, and Emma Robertson … 103

 

PART TWO

WOMEN IN MOTION: RETHINKING AGENCY AND ACTIVISM AT THE WORKPLACE AND BEYOND

The Strike, the Household, the Gendered Division of Labor, and International Networks: Women Auxiliaries and the Ship Repair Workers’ Strike (Genoa, 1955) / Marco Caligari ... 125

 In Order to Safeguard the Lives of Our Children and Families”: Resistance and Protest of Women Workers in the Greek Tobacco Industry, 1945–1970 / Thanasis Betas ... 145

Inside the Factory, Outside the Party-state: The Agency of Yugoslav Women Workers in Late Socialism (1976–1989) / Rory Archer ... 167

Work and the Politics of the Injured Body: Nurse Activism, Occupational Risk, and the Politics of Care in the United States / Elizabeth Faue .... 187

PART THREE

HOW THE PERSONAL REVEALS THE POLITICAL: WOMEN ACTIVISTS’ BIOGRAPHIES AND BEYOND

Women Activists’ Relationship to Peasant Women’s Work in Yugoslavia in the 1930s / Isidora Grubački ... 211

Women in the Trade Union Movement and Their Biographies: The Camera del Lavoro (Chamber of Labor) in Milan (1945–1965) / Debora Migliucci ... 235

French Trade Unionists Go International: The Circulation of Ideas on the Education and Training of Women Workers in the 1950s and 1960s / Françoise F. Laot ... 255

Trade Union Feminism in Lyon: Commissions-femmes as Sites of Resistance and Well-being in the 1970s / Anna Frisone ... 277

Working Women on the Move: Genealogies of Gendered Migrant Labor / Maria Tamboukou ... 299

List of Contributors ... 325

Chapter Abstracts ... 333

Index ... 341

“Women, Work, and Activism captures the intellectual energy and innovative thinking of feminist labor historians across Europe and beyond. This eye-opening collection models new theories of class and gender and dismantles outmoded assumptions, categories, and narratives in labor and feminist history. Written by an impressive mix of up-and-coming younger scholars and distinguished senior researchers, these essays are pioneering in their attention to new sites of working women’s agency, their adoption of transnational methodologies, and their fluency with global scholarship in multiple fields and languages."
“By providing a rich range of examples of labor-related women’s activism—from mutualism to conventional trade unionism, and from feminist workers to communist wives of workers—this volume demonstrates not only that ‘activism’ can be defined very differently in various contexts but also the myriad positions workers’ politics can take positions vis-á-vis the politics of class and gender. There have been very few collected volumes on women’s labor politics that could be compared to this book, and even less with a view back on the twentieth century as long as offered by this collection. Also, Women, Work, and Activism comes timely, at a pivotal moment for labor politics marked by structural changes in the labor market that will impact gender composition and gendered practices—a moment when we especially need to recognize and understand the history of women’s labor activism.”