Labor History

The study of labor at the University of Virginia is an interdisciplinary field that brings together many different forms of inquiry, from histories of slavery to environmental history. Labor historians understand that the study of those who work, what they do, and what that work means offers unique insight into the past. Combining the tools of social and cultural history with histories of business and capital, labor historians see work as a defining force in global and US history. Our research also reflects an interest in the politics of place, consumption, and conditions of work. Work and working conditions reflect the way that power and value operate in a society well beyond the factory floor. For this reason, our scholars of labor explore the ways that working conditions and working lives are formed in reference to gender, sexualityrace, and citizenship in workplaces as diverse as Chilean forests and the grounds of the University of Virginia. Labor history at UVA has a particular strength in the history of the US South. The histories of labor and its conditions in the United States have been profoundly determined by issues of slavery, race, and civil rights, and our research and teaching reflects this fact. In dialogue with disciplines such as American and Latin American Studies, as well as the Carter G Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies, labor historians at UVA are deeply committed to exploring the cultural and physical worlds inhabited by workers, whether in the United States or in other parts of the globe.