Friday 29 November 17:30 - 20:00

Goldsmiths, University of London (Richard Hoggart Building, room RHB137a)
Lewisham Way
New Cross
SE14 6NW

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Domestic Workers' Struggles in Historical Perspective

Community & Culture

Domestic Workers' Struggles in Historical Perspective: Understanding the Past and Imagining the Future

Domestic Workers’ unions form one of the most vibrant elements of the 21st-century labour movement. In the last few years cleaners have won a number of industrial disputes, including the 2018 campaign at Goldsmiths to bring them back in-house. Often domestic workers’ struggles are seen as something new – an expression of the 21st-century service economy, rather than part of older traditions of working-class struggle in Britain. Laura Schwartz’s new book reveals a much longer history of domestic worker organising, stretching back to the early 20th century and the Domestic Workers’ Union of Great Britain and Ireland founded by militant cooks and parlourmaids in 1910. To mark the publication of Feminism and the Servant Problem: Class and Domestic Labour in the Women’s Suffrage Movement (Cambridge University Press, 2019) Laura Schwartz will be in conversation with Sacha Hepburn, placing global domestic workers’ struggles in historical perspective and discussing how understanding the past can help us imagine a new and better future. The event will be moderated by Benno Gammerl from the Goldsmiths Centre for Queer History. Discussion with the audience will be followed by a drinks reception.

Laura Schwartz is Associate Professor of Modern British History at the University of Warwick.

Sacha Hepburn is Teaching Fellow in African History at the University of Warwick, and author of the forthcoming book Keeping Each Other: Domestic Service in Post-Colonial Zambia.

Benno Gammerl is Lecturer in History at Goldsmiths, University of London.

This event is free and open to the public. Please register in advance.


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