Call for Proposals: POMEPS and Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations

Labor Transformation and Regime Transition: Lessons from the Middle East and North Africa

Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations and the Project on Middle East Political Science are pleased to invite proposals for a virtual workshop on work and employment relations in the Middle East and North Africa. The workshop is scheduled for April 29-30, 2021.

Papers presented at this workshop should be substantially completed but invited participants will have the opportunity to receive feedback from scholars of industrial relations and the politics of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) at the workshop. Based on this workshop, a subset of authors may be asked to submit their paper as a part of a special section to the ILR Review, pending an external review process. Beyond this, the workshop will serve as a springboard for further collaboration (including organizing conference panels or contributing to other publication projects), and exchange among scholars interested in labor and employment relations in the MENA.

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What can the Middle East and North Africa tell us about the new world of workers’ movements? Despite its political and strategic importance, the MENA region has been largely absent from cross-regional comparative treatments of industrial relations and unionism.  Although the dynamics of union decline and renewal have been at the center of scholarship on industrial relations, this conventional focus obscures important transformations in labor relations in the MENA and beyond. These transformations demonstrate new pathways for worker voice, including among precarious groups and new modes of organizing among the unemployed.  They also highlight the changing role of unions in democratizing states and the continued struggle for representation in authoritarian regimes.

This workshop offers the first systematic attempt to bring the study of labor in the MENA in conversation with international and comparative scholarship on industrial and labor relations. It also contributes a much needed theoretically grounded, empirically rich, interdisciplinary approach to the study of labor in the MENA.

We are especially interested in empirical submissions from scholars whose work is grounded in labor relations with diverse disciplinary perspectives from industrial relations, sociology, psychology, economics, or political science. Papers may be supported by a range of methodologies, including survey research, qualitative or quantitative case studies, or statistical analyses of archival data.

Potential topic areas include, but are not limited to:

  • Labor Unions with/against Workers’ Movements
  • World of work beyond organizing
  • Blue Collar and White Collar on the Barricades: Different types of workers in unions, different types of workers’ unions
  • Precarious/Informal work
  • Unemployment—youth unemployment and the mobilization of the unemployed
  • Labor Markets/Insider /Outsider dynamics (political economy perspective)
  • Female labor force participation
  • Labor markets in the Gulf, with an emphasis on labor market conditions for citizens and migrants
  • Employment opportunities and labor market conditions for migrants and refugees

Prospective contributors are urged to consult the conference coordinators, Ian M. Hartshorn (University of Nevada, Reno) and Dina Bishara (Cornell University) regarding preliminary proposals or ideas for papers. To submit your extended abstract for consideration for the conference, please e-mail it to by the January 22, 2021 deadline.