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filmed at the University of Vienna
INTERMEDIAL AND INTERDISCIPLINARY APPROACH TO HISTORIOGRAPHICAL RELATIONSHIPS
Introduction: Coercion and Wage Labour in History and Art
Anamarija Batista, Viola Franziska Müller and Corinna Peres
This book explores the manifold ways in which coercion has occurred in and through remunerated labour. Covering a variety of historical periods and places brought together for the first time, it does so in a unique way by mobilising an interdisciplinary dialogue. Texts by historians and social scientists are accompanied by a series of images specifically created by illustrators that visualise and interpret the main messages. Other chapters written by art scholars draw on image material such as photographic portraits, film and exhibition posters to discuss how coercion in remunerated labour has been constructed and reflected in artistic practice. This book thus offers three means of knowledge production and reception: 1) through the academic text, which develops its argument successively word by word; 2) through the image, which develops the argument simultaneously and spatially; and 3) through the collaboration of image and text, which develops the argument in a hybrid way.
Two main purposes stand central. First, this book challenges the juxtaposition of wage labour and coerced labour by showing that different mechanisms of coercion have been used in combination with wages over the centuries. Most of the chapters deal with the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, when wage labour became the dominant form of labour relations in industrialised societies, such as Brazil, the Ottoman Empire, Hungary, Bulgaria, Serbia, North America and contemporary Bangladesh. And yet, wages are an age-old phenomenon, as the chapters on the medieval Frankish empire and Fatimid Egypt and on early modern Tuscany demonstrate. By assembling areas as diverse as textile production, mining, naval and war industries, civil service, domestic work and agriculture, we attempt to renew the scholarly attention to wage labour, which had conceptually been largely separated from coerced labour. To do so, Coercion and Wage Labour scrutinises anew, with a trans-epochal perspective, this ‘traditional’ subject of labour history through the lenses of global labour history.
The second intervention departs from the fact that narrating history in academic disciplines usually takes place in textual form. To challenge this conventional approach, the book places written histories in dialogue with artistic illustrations. This dialogue has two dimensions: the illustrations were created out of the text, while the chapters, in turn, also integrate and reflect on the illustrations. This hybridity of image and text makes it possible to accentuate different aspects. The text weaves dense information about coercion into its argumentation lines, including historical causes, consequences and possible ambiguities. The illustrators, by contrast, selected central aspects of the argument capable of carrying significant parts of the narrative. The direct links between the two media activate diverse interpretations and can draw unexpected parallels between work in past centuries and now.