Transnational Market Makers, Infrastructures, InstitutionsCross-border Labour Markets

Speaker: Prof. Dr. Ursula Mense-Petermann (Bielefeld University)
Co-Speaker: Prof. Karen Shire, Ph.D. (University of Duisburg-Essen)

Cross-border labour mobility and migration have developed into key issues within globalization research. Remarkably, however, ‘cross-border labour markets’ have not yet been addressed as a phenomenon sui generis in this context. Global structures and dynamics are largely scrutinized as factors impacting national labour markets, and the terms ‘emigration’ and ‘immigration’ that dominate the relevant literature underscore this focus on national labour markets as units of analysis.

The Research Training Group (RTG) 2951 takes a different approach, putting cross-border labour markets centre stage in its research programme. The emergence of cross-border labour markets can be observed in multiple sectors: in low-skilled labour (e.g. in domestic work or meat packing) as well as among highly-skilled workers and professionals (e.g. academics, consultants, medical doctors), or in sports, the arts, and the entertainment industry at large.
Against this background, the Research Training Group (RTG) 2951 puts cross-border labour markets centre stage in its research programme. The particular focus of the RTG is on investigating what makes it possible for cross-border labour markets to emerge and be consolidated, i.e., how are the coordination problems that are amplified in border crossing markets ‘solved’?

The RTG 2951 is jointly run by Bielefeld University’s Faculty of Sociology and the Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, and by the University of Duisburg-Essen’s Faculty of Social Sciences and Faculty of Business Administration and Economics. For further information on the DFG Funding Programme “Research Training Groups”, please consult the DFG Webpage.


September 2020 – März 2026Child Labour Opponents and their Campaigns in Global Perspective, 1888-1938.

Funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), 2020-2026

The project is directed by Dr Nina Schneider.

Cover: ChildLabor 1910

The project’s main objective is to investigate and compare a diverse sample of locally grounded yet nationally and/or often globally entangled child labour opponents, their motivations, and campaigns between 1888 and 1938, when anti child-labour activism was at its peak. While contemporary child labour has received scholarly attention, we lack comprehensive histories of child labour that extend beyond the nation framework and include the “Global South”. Only recently have a few studies contrasted regional and historical contexts or investigated transnational entanglements. In particular, knowledge on the global child labour abolition movement is scarce. Drawing on material gathered from 13 archives worldwide and focusing on Brazil and the United States as globally contextualised yet distinctive case studies, this project asks: Who were the protagonists, and how and why did they oppose child labour in different regions and moments in time? How does anti-child labour activism compare between regions and to what extent was it globally entangled? How did protagonists impact (or were impacted by) international conferences and organisations (e.g. the IACP and ILO), and the globalising anti-child labour discourses and practices they developed? The project aims to address three research gaps: 1) anti-child labour activism in historical context rather than the present; 2) opponents from the “South” rather than just the “West”; and 3) the understudied diverse opponents (from elite philanthropists to the labour movement, from civil society to transnational organisations), their motivations and campaigns (including the role of media and transnational organisations as exchange platforms). Innovatively combining the method of qualitative comparison and entangled history with a biographical and media-focused approach, the project’s main outcome (monograph) will be a first history of early twentieth century anti-child labour activism in the Americas in global perspective narrated through the biographies of 10 diverse localised, yet nationally and globally entangled, protagonists from Rio/São Paulo and New York City. Like a camera, it zooms out from their biographies (private) and local context (city) to the national and global level (child labour abolition as a global movement), making the project workable. Rather than merely accumulating knowledge about two national cases, these exemplar activists are set in a broader context. While the project will advance the history of child labour opposition regionally (in global rather than “Western” terms) and thematically (opponents, motivations, campaigns), it also constructively engages with criticism levelled against global history approaches (including the subfields of labour and social movements) that it risks silencing local or social specificities (diversity). Focusing on global child labour opponents, this project will contribute to a broader history of global child labour abolition.

DFG project site

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November 2022 – October 2024Distant Neighbors: Exploring Political Narratives and Visual Culture in Turkish-German Relations

Cover: Distant Neighbors

Distant Neighbors: Exploring Political Narratives and Visual Culture in Turkish-German Relations. DAAD-TUBITAK funded bilateral cooperation project between the European Institute at Bilgi University and the KHK/Centre for Global Cooperation Research/Universität at Universität Duisburg-Essen. Project duration: November 2022 – October 2024. PIs Dr. Deniz Güneş Yardımcı (Bilgi Universität) and PD Dr. Frank Gadinger (Universität Duisburg-Essen).

​This joint project by the European Institute at Istanbul Bilgi University and the Käte Hamburger Kolleg/Centre for Global Cooperation Research at the University Duisburg-Essen entitled ‘Distant Neighbors: Exploring Political Narratives and Visual Culture in Turkish-German Relations’ aims to explore the development of Turkish- German relations through a detailed empirical analysis of competing and/or shared political narratives in the German and Turkish context in order to show how they have shaped the contemporary perception of befriended, but rather ‘distant neighbors’.

The project that will be conducted between November 2022 and October 2024, is based on previous works and preliminary empirical studies. We use the starting thesis that the various political narratives on the Turkish-German relationship differ between elite and everyday discourses in both countries. Whereas the elite discourses in both countries and their political decision- makers mainly operate with narratives that (re-)produce a distant relationship in terms of pragmatic cooperation and interest-based politics, the everyday discourses and their cultural protagonists (film makers, musicians, artists) share many political narratives and emphasize transnational and culturally hybrid identities in both countries.

The interest in studying both elite and everyday forms of narration derives from the tentative observation that international (i.e. official) relations between Germany and Turkey haven often been strained, while transnational (i.e. society-level) relations may have been much friendlier at the same time. Our loosely comparative study of both arenas will allow us to show 1) how storytelling differs between the elite and public/societal level and 2) whether identities that emerge in these stories may differ between the official and everyday discourse.

Project site


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