Industrial vigilantism, strikebreaking and patterns of anti-labour violence, 1890s-1930s

Industrial vigilantism, strikebreaking and patterns of anti-labour violence, 1890s-1930s

University of Padua, University of Oxford
University of Oxford, Faculty of History, Oxford Centre for European History
United Kingdom
Vom - Bis
23.10.2018 - 24.10.2018
Amerigo Caruso

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Europe, North America and large areas of the globe experienced labour unrest and multiple strike waves, some of which developed a quasi-revolutionary momentum. Although considerable research has been done on the formation of labour movements and on the social, economic and institutional realities of labour conflicts, rather less attention has been paid to the repressive policies and practices of employers, and of local and national state authorities. In response to the steady growth of socialism and a renewed burst of revolutionary fears, exacerbated by the long drawn-out effects of economic competition, industrial firms and corporations increasingly resorted to the employment of paramilitary units, special police, vigilantes, professional strikebreakers and private detective agencies against organized labour and in the protection of their assets and investments. These groups typically operated on the frontiers between the legal and the extra-legal, drawing their strength from the language of the law, but often stepping outside it to carry out acts of violence, intimidation, and subversion.


23 October 2018

17.30 – 18.00 - Opening Remarks
Matteo Millan (ERC-PREWArAs Principal Investigator, University of Padova)

18.00 – 19.30 - Keynote Address
Geoff Eley (University of Michigan), Normalizing and fracturing civility, 1860-1930: What were the tracks and boundaries of violence?

24 October 2018

9.00 – 11.00 - First Panel
Panel Chair: Tom Buchanan (Oxford)

George Gilbert (Southampton), Strike breaking in the late Russian Empire: reaction and revolution.

Volodymyr Kulikov (CEU Budapest), Repression of Labor Movement in the Company Towns of Russia.

Claire Morelon (Padova), For the protection of willing workers": Violence and Strikebreaking in Late Habsburg Austria.

Amerigo Caruso (Padova), Anti-labor violence and the rise of strikebreakers’ gangs in late Imperial Germany, 1905-1914.

11.30 - 13.30 - Second Panel
Panel Chair: Patricia Clavin (Oxford)

Alessandro Saluppo (Padova), Strikebreaking and Maritime Labor in Britain, 1890- 1914.

Erik Bengtsson (Lund), Sweden: the labour market regime without repression? An overview with a specific look at the 1899 anti-strike Akarp Law.

Charles Fawell (Chicago), Labour in the In-Between Spaces of Empires: Militancy and Repression Along the Maritime Highways of the French Empire, c. 1880-1930.

Romain Bonnet (Padova), The Making of a Counter-Internationalism? Strikebreaking, political violence and the Fédération Nationale des Jaunes de France in Europe Belle Époque.

14.30 - 16.00 - Third Panel
Panel Chair: Giulia Albanese (Padova)

Bruno Settis (SNS Pisa, CHSP), Security and surveillance services in mass production industries: the case of Fiat.

Thanasis Betas (Thessaly), Cairo, Athens, Salonica. Strikebreaking and anti-labour employers’ and state’s practices in the cigarette industry in the earlier twentieth century.

Arturo Zoffmann Rodriguez (EUI), An honest worker against the red tyrants’: the dirty war between libres and cenetistas in Spain, 1919-23

16.00 – 17.30 - Fourth Panel
Panel Chair: Marc Mulholland (Oxford)
Vilja Hulden & Chad Pearson (UCB & Collin College), The Wild West of Employer Anti-Unionism: Individualism, Vigilantism, and the Glorification of Organized Anti- Union Leagues in the Early-Twentieth Century United States.

Prerna Agarwal (LSE), Countermanding the Red-Flag in the Name of Allah and ‘Constitutionalism’: the Murky World of Labour Politics in Calcutta Docks, 1930s.

Pierre Eichenberger (Zurich), ‘Employers of the world, unite!’ The International Organization of Industrial Employers, 1900-1939.

17.45 - 18.30 - Final Remarks and discussion
Martin Conway (University of Oxford)


Amerigo Caruso

University of Padua
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