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WorkLab General Conference Global Work

16.11.2023 - 18.11.2023

  • Tagung
  • für Erwachsene
  • Dauer 2 Tage
SHMH / Sinje Hasheider
SHMH / Sinje Hasheider


Many WORKLAB member museums were created to preserve and exhibit the memory of the workers, of industrial work and of workers’ movements – mainly based or referring to our respective national traditions. In Hamburg, we want to focus on the phenomenon of Global Work and target questions of global entanglement: How do we contribute to an entangled history of work and workers? How do we contextualize our national histories? How do we address issues like (post-) colonialism and decolonization? How do we keep up with contemporary discourses and stay relevant for our audiences and for societies?

This year’s WORKLAB General Conference will take place in the Museum of Work in Hamburg/Germany from Thursday, November 16th, to Saturday, November 18th. The conference fee of 150€ is to be paid on arrival (cash/card) and includes the scientific program, coffee and snacks, lunch, dinner and an excursion to the German Harbour Museum. Transport and accommodation are at the participants’ own expense. The Museum of Work is located in a 19th century hard rubber factory and will provide a unique and authentic venue for the meeting.


For registration and questions, please contact Hendrik Böttcher (hendrik.boettcher@mda.shmh.de).



Thursday, November 16th

17:00:                  Welcome Reception, Get-Together

19:00:                  Opening of the Special Exhibition “Man & Mining”


Friday, November 17th

9:00 – 9:15:        Conference Registration

9:15 – 9:30          Welcome Note by Rita Müller (Museum of Work, Hamburg)

9:30 – 9.45:        Welcome Address by Søren Bak-Jensen (Workers Museum, Copenhagen; Chairman WORKLAB General Assembly)

9:45 – 10.45:      Keynote Speech by Görkem Akgöz (Humboldt University, Berlin): “World of Entanglements: Weaving the Threads of Global Labour in Museums”

10:45 – 11.15:   Coffee Break

11:15 – 12.45:   Session 1

  • Kalle Kallio (Finnish Labour Museum, Tampere)

Limited Narratives of Labour Heritage

  • Bruno de Corte (Independent Historian, Antwerp)

About Industrial Decline, Brickmaking, Child Labour, Poverty and the International Perspective

  • Søren Bak-Jensen (Workers Museum, Copenhagen)

Uniting Workers Across the World. The Overlooked Heritage of Workers’ Assembly Halls

12:45 – 14:15:   Lunch

14:15 – 15.30:   Visit of the Museum’s Current Exhibitions

15:30 – 16:30:   Session 2

  • Dennis Zuev (University of St. Joseph, Macau; ISCTE, Lisbon)

Firecrackers and Ships: Industrial Heritage in Macau – Quo Vadis?

  • Inka Tuominen (Finnish Labour Museum, Tampere)

Escape Gaming as a Tool of Global and Environmental Education in Museums

16:30 – 17:00:   Coffee Break

17:00 – 18:00:   WORKLAB General Assembly

19:00:                  Dinner


Saturday, November 18th

9:30 – 11:00:     Session 3

  • Gabriele Zipf (Futurium, Berlin)

Anticipating Work from Different Angles in the Futurium Exhibition

  • Sandra Schürmann (Museum of Work, Hamburg)

Belém, Matadi, Barmbek. Towards an Entangled History of Colonial and Global Work

11:00 – 11:30:   Coffee Break

11:30 – 12:30:   Panel Discussion

12:30 – 13:30:   Lunch

13:30 – 14:30:   Travel to the German Harbour Museum by Public Transport

14:30 – 16:00:   Visit of the German Harbour Museum and the Four-Masted Barque Peking


Practical information

Location and transportation

The Museum of Work is located at Wiesendamm 3, 22305 Hamburg, just in front of the rapid train (S-Bahn) and subway (U-Bahn) station Barmbek. For public transportation see https://www.hvv.de/en.

Hotel suggestions

There are two hotels in the direct neighborhood of the Museum of Work: Ibis Styles Hamburg-Barmbek (Fuhlsbüttler Str. 32, 22305 Hamburg) and Intercity Hotel Hamburg-Barmbek (Fuhlsbüttler Str. 101, 22305 Hamburg). The Hotel am Stadtpark (Flüggestr. 5, 22303 Hamburg) is only a short walk away.

General Assembly

The Conference includes the general assembly of WORKLAB. It is open for all WORKLAB members, and we also welcome those who consider joining our network. We are going to discuss upcoming projects and elect the members of the board. If you are interested to take an active role in WORKLAB or want to make a suggestion for the assembly, please contact the current chairman Søren Bak-Jensen (sbj@arbejdermuseet.dk).


Call for Papers

We are happy to announce that the 2023 WORKLAB General Conference will take place on 16th – 18th November 2023 in the amazing surroundings of the Museum der Arbeit in Hamburg, Germany.

The call for papers for the 2023 WORKLAB General Conference is now open!
Please send your 500-word abstract no later than 15 August 2023 to Hendrik Böttcher, hendrik.boettcher@mda.shmh.de. Please include a short biography as well.

Work ties the world together and connects people across the globe. As a central feature to industrialization, wage labour has transformed societies and the daily life of people over the past two centuries. Globalization and free trade connect consumers with workers across vast distances. Millions of people uproot their existence in search work. And the labour movement has at its core that solidarity must extend beyond national boundaries and unite workers on a global scale.

Yet to what extent do museums engaged in preserving and exhibiting the experiences of workers, of industrial work and workers’ movements succeed in broadening their view beyond their national context? Global issues are sometimes addressed in temporary displays or community engagement projects. And a global perspective may exist somewhere behind the narrative of permanent exhibitions. But generally, the national perspective dominates the focus of labour history museums, even as scholars as well as audiences express a steadily growing interest in global and (post)colonial perspectives.

This year’s General Conference of WORKLAB – The International Association of Labour Museums will bring together museum professionals and researchers to discuss the role of global perspectives in the collections, research, and exhibition activities of labour history museums. There is a pressing need for a critical discussion of how global issues concerning work can have a stronger presence in the way labour history is presented to museum audiences. And how may we argue the relevance of a national perspective in labour museums today? The conference invites papers relating to this broad theme, and will cover a range of topics, including the following:

  • What experiences have been made by museums that address global issues of work? What has been the approach of museums that work in a transnational context? How does an international perspective affect museums, partnerships, and audiences?
  • Which narratives that underpin the study and exhibition of labour history require critical examination? What existing criteria and evaluations of heritage need to be analysed and modified to produce fair and balanced narratives of global work?
  • Which networks and forms of cooperation need to be strengthened in order to form closer professional and institutional connections with the Global South? What are the obstacles to global professional cooperation among labour museums that we need to remove?

Presentations will be 20 minutes plus 10 minutes for questions and debat.

Die Veranstaltung findet in folgenden Sprachen statt

  • Englisch