CfP: International Conference Trade Unions and Labor in Africa

Call for papers, deadline 31 December 2016


29th - 31st March 2017

Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto

The African Studies Center of the University of Porto (CEAUP), the General Confederation of the Portuguese Workers (CGTP-IN) and the Organization of African Trade Union Unity (OATUU) will co-organize from March 29 to March 31, 2017 at the Faculdade de Letras da U. Porto an international conference on Trade-unionism and Labor in Africa.
A special issue of the Journal on African Studies Africana Studia containing the main papers and results of the Conference will be published by the CEAUP.

After 1945, the increasing foreign investment in many African Territories allowed the making of an important working-class and its organizations (in spite of the colonial repressive policies).
During the 1960’s and 1970’s the African trade-unions played a relevant role in fostering the growth and modernization of the new African societies. Yet, in the two following decades, the changes induced in the African states policies by the increase of public debts and by the delocalization of capital fluxes blocked the emerging power of the African labor organizations. In the mid-1990’s the investment in Africa resumed and is now shared also by the BRIC’s. However, the correlation of forces is no longer favorable to the African Unions.
What trends are now going on? How can African trade unions recover their former power and lead the collective bargaining, in the defense of social and labor rights and social progressive changes? This Conference aims to discuss the following items:

- the history of African Trade Unions and the renewal of its problematics and methodologies

– new archive sources, oral sources, new monographic books ;

- African Trade Unions, capital mobility and the interests in the natural resources of Africa ;

- African trade unionism and its social and political context: Union’s Independence, Union’s organization, growth of the informal sector;

- African Trade Unions and gender equality: women organizations, wage imbalance, union struggles under women perspective;

- African Trade Unions and its role in social change: institutions of social dialogue; articulation of the labor organizations with social and cooperative movements

- African Trade Unions and the information technologies: upgrading the union militants and the organization of union databases

We expect that this Conference and the publication of its main results may contribute not only to a theoretical reflection but also to a practical impact in the policies of the organized labor. Thus, and because African trade-unionism should be discussed mainly by African trade-unionists, more than 30 African union organizations at federal and confederal level (of English, French and Portuguese official language) have already stated their willingness to participate in this Conference.

Conference Format:

All papers will be included in panels. The panel sessions will took place from March 29 to March 31, 2017. The final schedule will be defined according to the total proposals submitted and approved.


The panels and paper proposals should be sent to the following email:

The proposals may be presented in Portuguese, French or English. The proposals should include:
- an abstract (maximum 1000 characters)
- a set of 3 to 4 key-words


The proposals should be submitted until next December 31, 2016.
The validation of the proposals by the Scientific Commission of the Conference will be
made public to the proponents by January 15, 2017.

Organizing Commission

Arezki Mezhoud (OATUU)
Augusto Praça (CGTP-IN)
Ibrahim Abrar Ibrahim (OATUU)
Maciel Morais Santos (CEAUP)
Marco Alvarez (CEAUP)
Tiago Oliveira (USP/CGTP-IN)

Scientific Commission

Alexander Keese (CEAUP/Université de Genève)
Craig Phelan (Kingston University London)
Françoise Blum (Paris I/CNRS)
Maciel Morais Santos (CEAUP/FLUP)
Mathilde von Bülow (University of Glasgow)
Teresa Medina (FPCE/UP)

Any further questions can be asked to:
Centro de Estudos Africanos U. P.
Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto
Via Panorâmica s/n
4150-564 Porto
telefax: +351226077141