Skip to content Skip to main navigation Skip to footer

Call for Paper [CFP]

OBERT Symposium – Women and Work: Reframing a Narrative Relationship

Aix-Marseille Université, 10 – 11 June 2024

The relationship between women and the world of labour is a complex and multifaceted one, which has been defined and continues to be redefined over time not only in material and economic terms but also on a discursive and symbolic level. If « the economy returns to being a political and relational dimension in which language plays a constitutive function, through the primary act of naming and negotiating the meaning of needs » (Giardini 2017), the voice of women still represents a subordinate perspective that is extremely necessary for understanding the processes of transformation in the world of labour (Ventura 2018).

According to the intersectional dynamics described by Nixon in Slow Violence and The Environmentalism of The Poor (2011), the relationship between hegemonic, often masculine, narratives and minority perspectives is inscribed within the broader dynamics of domination and invisibilities. Nobel Prize Claudia Goldin (2023) has described a « quiet revolution », « accomplished by many who were unaware that they were part of a grand transformation » of society and labour, which has led to various phases of women’s identity and economic emancipation during the 20th century (Goldin 2006).

In Forces of Reproduction, echoing the materialist ecofeminist philosophy, environmental historian Stefania Barca states that « women form the large majority of the global proletariat (i.e. of the dispossessed and exploited of the world) – a class of labourers whose bodies and productive capacities have been appropriated by capital and capitalist institutions ». If relational « entanglements » – from Barad’s (2007) quantum physics terminology – constitute the materiality of the world of labour, « materialist ecofeminism helps us to see the ecology of workers’ communities » (Barca 2020).

Finally, also the spring of 1962 was silent: at that moment Rachel Carson, a biologist ahead of her time, published her seminal work, Silent Spring, in which she denounced the environmental risks of capitalist overproduction. Reflecting on the importance of language for critiquing the culture of any society, the insistent, albeit polysemic, presence of the semantic field of silence around the theme of women and work is evident.

This conference investigates two different but intersecting trajectories, both synchronically and diachronically: on the one hand, the modes and forms of representing women’s labour, and on the other hand, the voices of women (writers, directors, journalists, artists) who have dealt with labour, both as a theme and as a metanarrative element, as a narrative device or as an object of theoretical study.

1945 is fixed as the post quem term. Albeit with significant differences, 1945 can be considered as a period of profound transformation for European societies and economies. Within these temporal and spatial coordinates, we aim to initiate an interdisciplinary and transmedia reflection on artistic representations that explore the relationship between the theme of labour and the female perspective, highlighting its forms, themes, and structures. With this conference, we intend to gather an initial survey of case studies, where the voices of women can occupy both the place of the represented theme and the role of the speaking subject—an artist observing and representing the world of labour from a minority and potentially alternative perspective.

We encourage submission across different cultural contexts:

– thematic critique on the relationship between the theme of labour and female perspectives;

– role and forms of the female authorial voice;

– intersectionality on ecology, labour and gender issues;

– transmediality in the creation and interpretation of works;

– postcolonial criticism and migration.

Contributions are welcome in English, French and Italian, as the languages of communication during the conference.

You are invited to send an abstract of max. 350 words, followed by a bio-bibliographical note of max. 100 words to the following email address:,,, by 31 March 2024.

A notification of acceptance will be forwarded by the 3rd of April.

Each paper will consist of a 20-minute presentation, followed by a 10-minute discussion.

Scientific and organising committee:

Carlo Baghetti (LEST/CNRS)

Irene Cecchini (Aix-Marseille Université INCIAM, CIELAM/LPC)

Francesca Nardi (Università di Bologna)

[CFP] Mediterranean Working-Class Literatures

International Conference
University of Thessaly, Volos
14-15 June 2024
Confirmed Keynote Speaker: Dr. Monica Jansen, Utrecht University

Despite its establishment as a geographic space and field of widespread and consolidated imaginary investments, the Mediterranean resists any definite and unanimous delimitation and topographic ring-fencing. In fact, the Mediterranean is indissolubly tied to its discourses (Metvejevic, 1999, p. 12), which, on a diachronic axis, include both orientalist approaches and attempts to resist or overturn implicit or explicit value judgments intrinsic to these narratives (Camus, 1948; Cassano, 2005). Although traditionally viewed through the lens of a geographically static ‘Mediterraneanism’ either as a single, closed space or as a hotbed of conflict and contrasts (Herzfeld, 1984), the Mediterranean has been recently approached on the basis of diverse scales, in order to explore asymmetrical relations of symbolic and institutional power. The term ‘postcolonial sea’ both involves part of these shifting relations and places an emphasis on fluidity and exchange.
In this context, mobility arises as an invaluable compass for the navigation of the unchartable Mediterranean Sea. During the 20th and the 21st century, Mediterranean ports have constituted points of departure for overseas journeys; of arrival, for intra-Mediterranean transfers; transit points for routes to northern destinations. However, the intensification of mobility has been accompanied by a retentive process of control based on social stratification, which both regulates the circulation of primarily labour skills and effects the institutionalization of material and symbolic, internal and external, borders. The concept of ‘class’, therefore, is particularly pertinent in this instant, especially when taking into account that certain, primarily gendered, codes regularly employed for the analysis of Mediterranean cultures may be interpreted as expressions of class relations (Herzfeld, 1984, p. 66; de Pina-Cabral, 1989, p. 402).
Drawing on the above remarks, this conference starts from the premise that working-class narratives focusing on the Mediterranean renegotiate the stereotypical, often gendered, hierarchically interlinked representations of European North and South, East and West, which discursively construct the Mediterranean in terms of inclusion and exclusion. Hence the adoption of the Mediterranean as a context of literary production, point of reference and comparative literary study allows for a more thorough understanding of working-class narratives, which, in this particular area, are closely related to migratory phenomena.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to, the following:

1) The Mediterranean as a cultural context for working-class narratives

2) The intersection of class with other social categories (gender, ethnicity, sexuality) in Mediterranean working-class narratives

3) Comparative examinations of working-class narratives belonging to diverse literary traditions of the Mediterranean

4) Diasporic working-class narratives

5) Migration as a motif in Mediterranean working-class narratives

6) Comparative analysis with other types of working-class narratives in the Mediterranean (cinematic, autobiographical, etc.)

The conference will take place on-site at the University of Thessaly, in the city of Volos; however, provisions will be made for on-line participation, in exceptional cases.
Interested contributors are invited to submit in a 250-word abstract in English or Greek, accompanied by a short bio, by February 10, 2024 to: Please also use this email address for any further queries. Contributors will be notified by the Scientific Committee by February 20, 2024. Selected conference papers will be published in a collective volume.

Organising Committee
Vasiliki Petsa, Postdoctoral Researcher & PI of the research project GEWOCL (H.F.R.I.), University of Thessaly
Evgenia Sifaki, Assistant Professor, Department of Early Childhood Education, University of Thessaly
Vasileiοs Petikas, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Crete, Scientific Associate of the research project GEWOCL (H.F.R.I), University of Thessaly
Nikolaos Kalogiros, Ph.D. Candidate & Scientific Associate of the research program GEWOCL (H.F.R.I), Department of Early Childhood Education University of Thessaly
Carlo Baghetti, Chercheur contractuel Centre National Recherche Scientifique – CNRS, member of the research group OBERT
Erica Bellia, Junior Research Fellow, Churchill College, University of Cambridge, member of the research group OBERT

Scientific Committee
Vasiliki Petsa, Postdoctoral Researcher & PI of the research project GEWOCL (H.F.R.I.), University of Thessaly
Evgenia Sifaki, Assistant Professor, Department of Early Childhood Education, University of Thessaly
Carlo Baghetti, Chercheur contractuel Centre National Recherche Scientifique – CNRS, member of the research group OBERT
Erica Bellia, Junior Research Fellow, Churchill College, University of Cambridge, member of the research group OBERT

Metvejevic, P (1999) Mediterranean. A Cultural Landscape (Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press).
Camus, A. (1959)[1948] ‘L’ exil d’ Hélène’, in L’ été, (Paris: Gallimard), 75-83.
Cassano, F. (2005) Il pensiero meridiano (Bari: Editori Laterza).
Herzfeld, M. (1984) ‘The Horns of the Mediterraneanist Dilemna, American Ethnologist, Vol. 11, No. 3, 439-454.
Chambers, I. (2008) Mediterranean Crossings: The Politics of an Interrupted Modernity (Durham & London: Duke University Press).
Giaccaria, P. & Minca, C. (2010) ‘The Mediterranean alternative’, Progress in Human Geography, Vol. 35, No. 3 (2001), 345-365.
de Pina-Cabral, J. (1989) ‘The Mediterranean as a Category of Regional Comparison: A Critical View’, Current Anthropology, Vol. 30, No. 3 (Jun., 1989), pp. 399-406.

This conference is supported by the Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation (H.F.R.I.) under the “3rd Call for H.F.R.I. Research Projects to support Post-Doctoral Researchers” (Project Number:7520, GEWOCL, PI: Vasiliki Petsa).