Global Labor Migration: Past and Present

June 20-22, 2019

The International Institute for Social History
Amsterdam, The Netherlands


Labor migration is a vast, global, and highly fluid phenomenon in the 21st century, capturing public attention and driving political controversy.  There are more labor migrants working in areas beyond their birth country or region than ever before.  Although scattered across the social ladder, migrant workers have always clustered, at least initially, in the bottom rungs of the working class.  Even as cross-border or inter-regional movement may beckon as a source of hope and new opportunity, the experience for the migrants and their families is often fraught with peril.  Labor migrants are vulnerable: they are exploited more easily by recruiters and employers, and are less likely to benefit from union representation.  They often face arrest or deportation when attempting to fight for their rights, and are bound to special documents that limit their ability to change jobs.  Moreover, as recent history reminds us, host-country fears directed towards labor migrants can also spark larger political movements characterized by nativist, racist, or even outright fascist tendencies.  Clearly, there is a need to combat fear with understanding and to reach for improved global regulations and standards to protect the rights and welfare of migrants alongside those of host country working people. 

Because today global labor migration is shaping the lives of millions, and because it is receiving unprecedented attention by scholars, the newly-formed Global Labor Migration Network (GLMN) is currently planning for a Global Labor Migration Summit to take place in Amsterdam in summer 2019.  Involving scholars and activists from diverse parts of the globe and drawing on a wide variety of disciplines--including history, sociology, anthropology, ethnic studies, women and gender studies, public health, law and public policy--this project will bring international attention to one of the world’s most pressing issues, generate scholarly dialogue and new research agendas, and propose policies that can improve conditions for migrants.  The conference will also include a range of presentation formats: brief papers, roundtables, and open conversations.

Call for Papers

The Global Labor Migration Network has announced its call for papers for this international summit. The application portal is now open. Full instructions can be found below. Applications are due via the application portal by July 1, 2018. Presentations on labor migration in Africa, Asia, and Latin America are particularly encouraged.

The following thematic areas will be prioritized for projected panels:

  • Host country immigration policy and politics
  • Sending country/emigrant relations
  • Women and care-worker migration issues
  • Populism, restrictionism, and anti-immigrant movements
  • Refugees and asylum-seekers
  • Trade unions and host worker/immigrant worker relations
  • Neoliberalism/post-neoliberalism and immigration policy
  • Regulatory strategies for ensuring decent work for migrant workers
  • International organizations and NGOs (U.N., ILO, World Bank, Care, Oxfam, etc.)
  • Race, ethnicity, and migrant labor markets
  • Free/unfree labor, trafficking, and the global migrant labor system
  • Im/migrant rights activism


Applicants are encouraged to submit full panel proposals, including a chair, commentator, and no more than three papers; individual paper submissions will also be accepted.

The submission form may be found at

The deadline for submitting proposals is 11:59 p.m. EST, July 1, 2018. If you encounter technical difficulties, please contact technical support at For non-technical questions concerning submission guidelines, eligibilities, or submission status, please contact

Everyone on the program must register for the meeting when registration opens in the fall.

Individual Papers

Before submitting a proposal online, session organizers should collect the following information, which will be needed to submit a complete proposal:
  • Paper or presentation titles
  • Abstract or description for each presentation (up to 250 words)
  • CV
  • Correct e-mail address
  • Affiliation, city, state, and country


    Sessions will last for two hours and will be limited to three speakers plus a chair and commentator. We encourage organizers to build panels that bring together diverse perspectives.

    Before submitting a proposal online, session organizers should collect the following information, which will be needed to submit a complete proposal:
  • Session title
  • Session abstract (up to 250 words)
  • Individual paper or presentation titles
  • Abstract or description for each presentation (up to 250 words)
  • CV for each participant
  • Correct e-mail address for each participant
  • Affiliation, city, state, and country for each participant
  • Chair and commentator for the session

    The Global Labor Migration Network welcomes proposals across disciplines on all places, periods, people, and topics. The Program Committee encourages proposals from all scholars, whatever their institutional affiliation or status.


    A special thanks to the current co-sponsors for this conference:

    • The Center for Global Migration Studies
    • Labor
    • Critical Sociology
    • Joo-Cheong Tham
    • Fraser Center
  • Center for Global Migration Studies

    2133 Francis Sott Key Hall
    4280 Chapel Lane
    College Park, MD 20742

    Web Accessibility

    Connect With Us

    Phone: 301-405-4305

    Follow us on Social Media: