Multi-scalar and Cold War-driven? Comparative Reflections on Communist-led Gendered Trade Unionism in State-Socialist Europe and Internationally

Susan Carin Zimmermann (Central European University)

Dienstag, 20. Juni 2023 // 18 Uhr c.t. // KWZ 0.610

The presentation discusses the politics of promoting women’s trade unionism at the World Federation of Trade Unions and in Hungary between the late 1940s and the late 1950s. It examines the factors that propelled and restricted the development of these politics on, and shaped their travel between, the workplace and the national and international scales. While women’s trade unionism flourished in Hungary in the period, within the women’s politics pursued by the WFTU internationally the triple distinction between socialist, capitalist, and colonial countries translated into rather restrictive roles envisioned for Central European women’s trade unionism. For a variety of reasons, related to all scales of action, the connection between the WFTU’s politics of promoting women’s trade unionism and the activities developed by the Hungarian women trade unionists remained rather weak during the period considered.

Susan Zimmermann is a historian of labour and gender politics and movements in the international context and in Austria-Hungary. Her most recent monograph is Frauenpolitik und Männergewerkschaft. Internationale Geschlechterpolitik, IGB-Gewerkschafterinnen und die Arbeiter- und Frauenbewegungen der Zwischenkriegszeit (Löcker Verlag 2021), and together with Eloisa Betti, Leda Papastefanaki and Marica Tolomelli she co-edited Women, Work, and Activism. Chapters of an Inclusive History of Labor in the Long Twentieth Century (CEU Press 2022). She holds the European Research Council Grant “Women’s Labour Activism in Eastern Europe and Transnationally, From the Age of Empires to the Late 20th Century” (Acronym: ZARAH).