Conducts research and collects data on the global history of labour, workers, and labour relations

General Labour History of Africa

The project for a General Labour History of Africa (GLHA) is designed to fill the gap in the literature on the history of Africa and to contribute to an effective understanding of work and labour in Africa.

The GLHA aims also to significantly contribute to the Century Project in  commemoration of the ILO’s 100th anniversary which will be celebrated in 2019.
The Century Project is anchored in the study of oral archives and research into the influence of the different ILO instruments and their impact on the lives of working peoples and their families.  It is also intended to provide a historical perspective on the role of the ILO in shaping key milestones in the history of labour.  The GLHA project in Africa aims to provide a significant contribution from Africa to the Century Project.

The GLHA project will:

  • gather together Africanist historians and labour historians;
  • create  a new “field of attention” represented in labour history;
  • become the focal point for wider research and discussion on labour in Africa and further stimulate intellectual exchanges between Africa experts and experts on labour specialised in other regions of the world
  • find new definitions of labour, workers, slaves, unpaid work, household/family work etc. that would fit Sub-Saharan Africa

Steering Committee

Dr. Stefano Bellucci (Senior Researcher at the IISH in Amsterdam) is co-chairing the Steering Committee with Dr. Cynthia Samuel-Olonjuwon (Chief Regional Programming Unit of the ILO Regional Office for Africa).

Management Sub-Committee
Prof. Anshu Padayachee (Chief Executive Officer of South African Research Programme on Alternatives in Development)
Dr. Cynthia Samuel-Olonjuwon (Chief Regional Programming Unit of the ILO Regional Office for Africa)
Dr. Firmin Matoko (Director of the UNESCO Liaison Office with the African Union and with the Economic Commission for Africa)
Dr. Muna Abdalla (Director of IDEA International / Liaison Office with the African Union)
Dr. Guebray Berhane (Regional Communications Officer of the ILO Regional Office for Africa)

Scientific Sub-Committee
Prof. Andreas Eckert (Director of the International Research Centre for Work and Human Life Cycle in Global History, Humboldt University of Berlin)
Prof. Andreas Eshetè (Professor of Law and Philosophy, Former President of Addis Ababa University)
Prof. G. Ugo Nwokeji (Associate Professor of African Studies, University of California, Berkeley)
Prof. Hanan Sabea (Professor of Anthropology at the University of Cairo)
Dr. Stefano Bellucci (Senior Researcher and Head of the Africa Desk of the IISH in Amsterdam)

More information

More information on the project can be found in the PDF file with chapters on:

  1. Brief Historiography of African Labour History
  2. The Quest for a New Historical Appraisal of African Labour
  3. Which Historical Methodology?
  4. Periodization
  5. An Overview of the Project
  6. Organisational Aspects of the Project
  7. Members of the Steering Committee
  8. Audience
  9. Funding and Supporting Organizations
  10. References

Or listen to the interview with Stefan Bellucci for the South African Channel Africa Radio (8 November 2012).