Working Group 1: Grammars of Coercion

WG Leader: Claude Chevalyre (Lyon, France)

WG Co-Leader: Branimir Brgles (Zagreb, Croatia)


The working group “Grammars of Coercion” takes inventory of the variety of words, expressions and phrases historical actors themselves used in specific times, places and contexts to articulate coercive moments and mechanisms in work relations.

It collects and compares words, expressions and phrases across time and space for at least three moments of coercion:

  • Recruitment into a work relation;
  • use and exploitation of a workforce;
  • termination of a work relation.

By detecting and explaining the social meanings and taxonomical orders behind those words, WG 1 challenges the field’s reliance on the analytical language of the modern West. It makes it possible to see the words used to name labour relations and conditions of coercion as fields of conflict among historical agents. In other words, it treats the naming of certain status or labour relation as a contested act of power.