Labour, Coercion, and Economic Growth in Eurasia, 17th-20th Centuries


 Labour, Coercion, and Economic Growth in Eurasia, 17th-20th Centuries [2012].

 Edited by Alessandro Stanziani, EHESS and CNRS



(To read the introduction of the book, follow this link)


The history of the forms of “free” labour is intimately linked to that of coerced labour. In this book, worldwide acknowledged specialists of Russia, China, Russia, Japan, India, the Indian Ocean, France and Britain show that between the seventeenth and the twentieth century, forms of labour and bondage were defined and practised in reference to each other. Labour relationships found their sources not only in the global circulation of models, peoples, goods and institutions, but also in market dynamics. Proto-industry, agriculture, trade and manufacturing experienced unprecedented growth throughout Eurasia. Mostly labour-intensive, this long-term growth put considerable pressure on labour resources and contributed to increased coercion and legal constraints on labour mobility in both Asia and Europe.

Table of contents

Notes on Contributors

Introduction: Labour, Coercion, and Economic Growth in Eurasia, Seventeenth to Early Twentieth centuries, Alessandro Stanziani

PART ONE: JURIDICAL MODELS AND LABOUR DYNAMICSThe Duty to Work: A Comparison of the Common Law and Civil Law Systems from the Eighteenth to the Twentieth Centuries, Simon DeakinDutch Imperial Anxieties About Free Labour, Penal Sanctions and the Right to Strike, Ulbe BosmaChildren and Forced Labour in the Indian Ocean World, Circa 1750-1900, Gwyn Campbell

PART TWO: DEPENDANCE AND SERVITUDE AT WORK. LOCAL CUSTOMS AND GLOBAL DYNAMICSFactors that Shaped the Organization of Labor and the Labor Market in Tokugawa Japan: Kyoto and Central Japan, Mary Louise Nagata
Contractual Relations, Tariffs and Customs in the Lyon Silk Industry in the Nineteenth Century, Pierre Vernus
The Circulation of Commercial Manpower in an Indian Worldwide Trading Network in the Early Twentieth Century, Claude Markovits

Constrained Labour in Early-Modern Rural East-Central and Eastern Europe: Regional Variation and its Causes, Markus Cerman
Rights and Bondage in Russian Serfdom, Alessandro Stanziani
Acting as Master and Bondservant Considerations on Status Identities and the Nature of “Bond-servitude” in Late Ming China, Claude Chevaleyre
Public Works and the Question of Unfree Labour, Chitra Joshi



[Journal] Labour History

“Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History

The interdisciplinary nature of labour history, and its acceptance of less traditional sources, including folklore and oral testimony, make it a fascinating field, alive to past and present social justice issues.
The journal, which has been appearing twice yearly since 1962, is the premier outlet for refereed, scholarly articles in its field in Australasia.
Because ASSLH aims to raise historical awareness in the community, Labour History also publishes essays, reviews, and memoirs that reflect the involvement of labour historians in the making of history.”

For more information, follow this link.

[Journal] International Review of Social History

“The International Review of Social History (IRSH) is one of the leading journals in the field of social history, more in particular the history of work, workers, and labour relations, defined in the broadest possible sense, including workers’ struggles, organizations, and associated social, cultural, and political movements, both in the modern and the early modern periods, and across periods.

The IRSH aims to be truly global in scope and stresses the need for a comparative perspective that acknowledges the interrelationship of historical change and the phenomena and factors underlying that change. We welcome submissions from all over the world that deal with the social history of work, workers, and labour relations, explored on a local, regional, national, or transnational level, but always with an eye to how they contribute to a better understanding of what constitutes global labour history.

Areas covered include the life and work of slaves, wage labourers, artisans, peasants, and the self-employed; related issues of class, gender, age, and race and ethnicity; social, cultural, and political movements, including the intellectual ideas that played a part in those movements; citizenship; theoretical and methodological issues; and the environment and ecology in relation to the social.

Submissions that fall within this range of themes and topics in the field of social history of work and workers are welcomed, particularly those providing a comparative, transnational, or transcontinental perspective.”

See :

And :

[Journal] International Labor and Working-Class History

“Published for International Labor and Working-Class History, Inc.

ILWCH has an international reputation for scholarly innovation and quality. It explores diverse topics from globalisation and workers’ rights to class and consumption, labour movements, class identity, unions, and working-class politics. ILWCH publishes original essays, book reviews, and an acclaimed scholarly controversy section. Comparative and cross-disciplinary, the journal is of interest to historians, sociologists, political scientists, and students.”

International Review of Social History Supplements

International Review of Social History Supplements is a must see series for anyone interested in social history and more specifically in labour history.

International Review of Social History, a leading journal in its field, attempts to combine theoretical innovation with thorough research. The oldest scholarly journal of its kind, it is distinguished for the quality, depth and originality of its articles. It also publishes book reviews, a bibliography of social history titles, and an annual supplement of specially commissioned essays on a current topic. Addressing issues of immediate interest, the supplement contributors bring different perspectives and distinguished scholarship to the subject of social history.” (follow this link for a complete list of the books published in this series)

Latest volumes related to labour history include, among others :

  • Ulbe Bosma, Elise van Nederveen Meerkerk, Aditya Sarkar, Mediating Labour. Worldwide Labour Intermediation in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (2013).
  • Karin Hofmeester, Christine Moll-Murata, The Joy and Pain of Work Global Attitudes and Valuations, 1500–1650 (2012).
  • Rana P. Behal, Marcel van der Linden, Coolies, Capital and Colonialism. Studies in Indian Labour History (2007).

[Journal] Labour / Le travail

“Labour/Le Travail is the official, semi-annual publication of the Canadian Committee on Labour History. Since it began publishing in 1976, it has carried many important articles in the field of working-class history, industrial sociology, labour economics, and labour relations. Although primarily interested in a historical perspective on Canadian workers, the journal is interdisciplinary in scope. In addition to articles, the journal features documents, conference reports, an annual bibliography of materials in Canadian labour studies, review essays, and reviews. While the main focus of the journal’s articles is Canadian, the review essays and reviews consider international work of interest to Canadian labour studies. Many of Labour‘s articles are illustrated and each issue is book length, averaging 350 pages an issue.”

Please follow this link :

Some past articles can be freely accessed online, such as Shiling McQuaide’s review essay on Chinese labour history that can be accessed here : “Writing Chinese Labour History: Changes and Continuities in Labour Historiography

Journée d’étude : Travail, coercition et croissance économique en Eurasie, XVIIe-XXe siècles, EHESS, 8 février 2012

Travail, coercition et croissance économique en Eurasie, XVIIe-XXe siècles.

EHESS, 190 avenue de France, 75013, Salle 638, Vendredi 8 février 2012, 9,30-13 heures

A l’occasion de la parution de l’ouvrage Labour, Coercion and Growth in Eurasia, 17th-20th centuries, Leiden, Brill, 2012 (sous la direction de Alessandro Stanziani)

L’histoire des formes du travail “libre” est étroitement liée à celle du travail forcé. Les cas de la Russie, de l’Indonésie néerlandaise, de l’Inde et de l’Océan indien sont discutés en relation avec ceux du Japon, de la Chine, de la France et de l’Angleterre. Dans tous ces cas, les formes du travail répondent non seulement à la circulation de modèles, institutions et pratiques du travail, mais aussi aux dynamiques globales des marchés. Entre le XVIIe et le début du XXe siècle, la proto-industrie, l’agriculture, le commerce et la manufacture connaissent une croissance sans précédents dans les principales régions d’Asie et d’Europe. Cette croissance fortement intensive en travail exerce une pression accrue sur les ressources en travail et contribue à accroître la coercition. Ce processus ne s’arrête pas avec la première révolution industrielle, mais bien plus tard, au tournant du XIXe et du XXe siècle, avec la deuxième révolution industrielle et l’essor de l’État social.


  • Alessandro Stanziani, EHESS (CRH) et CNRS, Introduction. Travail, contrainte et croissance économique.
  • Claude Markovits (CNRS, EHESS, Centre d’études de l’Inde et de l’Asie du Sud), The circulation of commercial manpower in an Indian worldwide trading network in the early twentieth century
  • Claude Chevaleyre, EHESS, Centre Chine, Corée, Japon, Acting as Master and Bondservant. Considerations on Status Identities and the Nature of “Bond-servitude” in Late Ming China.
  • Ulbe Bosma, IISG, Amsterdam, Dutch Imperial Anxieties About Free Labour, Penal Sanctions and the Right to Strike.
  • Pierre Vernus, Lahra, Lyon, Les relations contractuelles, les tarifs et les usages dans l’industrie de la soie à Lyon au XIXe siècle.


  • Christian Lamouroux, EHESS, Centre Chine, Corée, Japon
  • Marcel van der Linden, IISG, Amsterdam

Contacts et informations: