We are pleased to announce the publication of the edited volume “Coercion and Wage Labour: Exploring Work Relations through History and Art”, edited by Anamarija Batista, Viola Müller and Corinna Peres.

Coercion and Wage Labour presents novel histories of people who experienced physical, social, political or cultural compulsion in the course of paid work. Broad in scope, the chapters examine diverse areas of work including textile production, war industries, civil service and domestic labour, in contexts from the Middle Ages to the present day. They demonstrate that wages have consistently shaped working people’s experiences, and failed to protect workers from coercion. Instead, wages emerge as versatile tools to bind, control, and exploit workers. Remuneration mirrors the distribution of power in labour relations, often separating employers physically and emotionally from their employees, and disguising coercion.

The book makes historical narratives accessible for interdisciplinary audiences. Most chapters are preceded by illustrations by artists invited to visually conceptualise the book’s key messages and to emphasise the presence of the body and landscape in the realm of work. In turn, the chapter texts reflect back on the artworks, creating an intense intermedial dialogue that offers mutually relational ‘translations’ and narrations of labour coercion. Other contributions written by art scholars discuss how coercion in remunerated labour is constructed and reflected in artistic practice. The collection serves as an innovative and creative tool for teaching, and raises awareness that narrating history is always contingent on the medium chosen and its inherent constraints and possibilities.

The book is based on contributions to the WORCK Conference 1, “Reconceptualising Wage Labour”, which took place in September 2020 (https://worck.eu/conference-1-2020-budapest/), and linked to the WORCK Virtual Exhibition “Coercion and Wage Labour” (https://worck.eu/virtual-exhibition-intro/).

The book is available open access: https://www.uclpress.co.uk/products/223285.