Deadline for Proposals (500 words): 15 April 2021

In recent decades there have been growing bodies of literature on gender and war, on war labour, and on various forms and degrees of labour coercion. Yet rarely have these areas – gender, coercion and war labour – been brought together and analyzed as intersecting and interdependent themes. In addition, much of this literature focuses primarily on the 20th century. This special issue will examine these intersecting themes from a broader historical perspective to ask new questions and propose new conceptual frameworks to help understand degrees, forms and sites of coercion and their gendered dimensions in connection with war-related work and labour (military or civilian).

Similar to unpaid work, military service in the modern age has not always been understood as a form of labour. In parallel to how feminist research has shown women’s reproductive labour and unpaid household work to be essential parts of modern economies, it is relevant to broadly consider activities related to warfare and militaries as parts of a wider gendered division of labour. By adding the dimension of coercion, we can significantly expand the scope of our understanding of its interplay with gendered war-related tasks as carried out in different spheres, ranging from the armed forces and auxiliary services to agricultural and industrial production, domestic work, and civil organizations. This also enables us to analyze how and why war-related work has often been legally, culturally and materially constructed not as labour but as citizenship obligation, conscription, work duty, punishment or even forms of slavery.

War-related labour extends far beyond wartime itself. The societal impact of warfare begins long before the first shot is fired and does not cease with an armistice. Even during long periods of peace, most societies direct large proportions of its labour force towards preparation for war. In the aftermath of large armed conflicts, the effects on labour and working conditions can be ongoing as infrastructure is rebuilt, veterans – including those with disabilities – are reintegrated into productive work, and women’s tasks are again reassigned in the post-war division of labour.

This special issue of Labor History will engage with labour and war in its many gendered forms, and will note that much of this labour is indeed coerced to various degrees. The time period is broad, inclusive of the early modern and modern periods, and there are no geographical limitations. Paper proposals for the special issue should address all key themes of (1) gender, (2) war-related labour and (3) coercion.

Themes and time periods for paper proposals

The special issue welcomes paper proposals that address and historicize the intersections between all key themes: gender, war labour and coercion. The time period is roughly the 17th-21st centuries and there are no restrictions on geographical area.

Some general examples of how contributions might address all key themes include:

  • Gendered and racial dimensions of prisoners of war labour camps
  • Men, masculinities and compulsory soldiering (conscription, devshirme, press-ganging, veterans, postwar disabilities etc)
  • The meanings of voluntarism and coercion in women’s war labour
  • Intersectional approaches to conscientious objection and/or desertion
  • Forms and degrees of coercion in reproductive war labour
  • Gendered sites of forced war labour
  • Demobilization from coercive war labour

Proposals and timeline
Please send your 500-word proposal to the editors (contact details below) by 15 April 2021. Ensure your proposal addresses the intersections between all three key themes (gender/intersectionality, war labour and coercion). The editors will review the proposals and advise of the outcome by May 2021. If you are invited to submit a full paper for further review, the paper will be due by January 2022.

Contact details for further information and to send your proposal:

Information about Labor History can be found here:
You can find the full Call for Papers with a more detailled outline of the intersecting themes of the special Issue here.