Conference Program: The Global E. P. Thompson


The Global E. P. Thompson


Reflections on the Making of the English Working Class after Fifty Years

To be held at Harvard University, October 3-5, 2013

Register HERE

All conference panels will take place in the Tsai Auditorium of the CGIS South Building, located at the corner of Cambridge and Prescott Streets, just northeast of Harvard Square.

This conference will be streamed live; register to participate online HERE.



Rudi Batzell, PhD Candidate, History, Harvard University

Sven Beckert, Laird Bell Professor of American History, Harvard University

Andrew Gordon, Folger Fund Professor of History, Harvard University

Gabriel Winant, PhD Candidate, History, Yale University

Conference Coordinator: Jessica Barnard, Weatherhead Initiative on Global History, Harvard University

Made possible by a Major Conference Grant from the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs

Co-Sponsored by

The Program on the Study of Capitalism


The Weatherhead Initiative on Global History

With generous support from:

The Committee for African Studies; the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies; the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies; the South Asia Institute; the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History; Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies


Fifty years ago E. P. Thompson published The Making of the English Working Class, one of the most influential social history works ever. Its approach to the history of common people, its arguments and its methods came to influence several generations of historians and others all over the world. To trace Thompson’s influences, and with it the larger story of the varied approaches to social history that have come out of them, the Program on the Study of Capitalism and the Weatherhead Initiative on Global History at Harvard University seek to initiate a global conversation among researchers across the humanities and social sciences to reflect critically on Thompson's impact on the writing of history and his enduring significance for future research. 

At a time of global economic crises, as scholarship returns to themes of class, inequality and political economy with renewed interest, urgency, and moral purpose, the fiftieth anniversary of the Making of the English Working Class offers a welcome opportunity to both critically reflect on Thompson's scholarship and consider the ways in which his ideas, methods and commitments can still inspire intellectual frameworks and research programs that speak to present global problems.

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(Password Protected, Please Register to Access) 


Thursday, October 3


4:00 – 6:00 PM

Thompson and his Times

Madeleine Davis, Queen Mary, University of London, UK: “Edward Thompson's ethics and Activism 1956-1963: reflections on the political formation of The Making of the English Working Class

Michael Merrill, Harry Van Arsdale Jr. Center for Labor Studies, SUNY, New York: “What Makes Making Marxist? E. P. Thompson and the Theory of the English Working Class”

Tim Shenk, Columbia University, New York: “The Ends of History: E. P. Thompson Writes the Apocalypse”

Comment: Alex Keyssar, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University 

Papers available HERE: do not cite or circulate without the permission of the author


6:30 – 8:30 PM

Opening Keynote Address

(space is no longer available at keynote dinner, please consider watching online) 

Cal Winslow, University of California Berkeley, California“Tending the Liberty Tree: Experience, Politics and History from Below” 



Friday, October 4

10:00 – 12:00 AM

Thompson and Theory

John Trumpbour, Labor and Worklife Program, Harvard Law School: “Edward P. Thompson, Perry Anderson, and the Antinomies of British Marxism Revisited”

Jeffery Webber, Queen Mary, University of London, UK: “Reading E. P. Thompson in the Andes”

Lisa Furchtgott, Yale, New Haven: “'That on-rolling fashion-machine:' gender and the eschatological E.P. Thompson” 

Comment: Norberto Ferreras, Weatherhead Initiative on Global History Fellow, Universidade Federal Fluminense, Brazil



Noon – 1:00 PM: Lunch


1:00 – 3:00 PM

Thompson in the Global South

Jonathan Hyslop, Colgate University, New York: “The Practice and Politics of Thompsonian Social History in South Africa, from the 1970s to the present”

Y. Do?an Çetinkaya, Panteion University, Athens Greece: “E. P. Thompson in the 'Orient': His Belated Impact on Young Scholars of Turkey during the 1990's”

Lucas Martín Poy Piñeiro, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina: “The Making of Labor History: Tracing the Influence of E. P. Thompson in Argentina”

Comment: John WomackHarvard University 



3:00 – 3:30 PM: Coffee Break


3:30 – 5:30 PM

Thompson in the Global North

Rudolf Kucera, Masaryk Institute and Archives, Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague, Czech Republic: “Meeting the Hard Line: British Marxism, The Making and the Communist Historiographies of East Central Europe”

Thomas Lindenberger, Center for Contemporary History, Potsdam, Germany: 'Of historical relevance only? The German reception of The Making reassessed from a (post) Cold War perspective'

Hideo Ichihashi, Saitama University, Tokyo, Japan: "E. P. Thompson and Japanese Left Wing Intellectuals: Why Wasn’t His Major Work Translated for 40 Years?”

Melvyn Dubofsky, SUNY Binghamton, New York: “Edward Thompson: The Man, the Scholar, the Activist, Personal Recollections”

Comment: Charlie MaierHarvard University




Saturday, October 5


8:30 – 10:30 AM

Moral Economy

Gabrielle Clark, European University Institute, Florence, Italy: “'Humbug' or 'Human Good'?: E. P. Thompson, the Rule of Law, and Labor from The Making to Neoliberal American Capitalism”

Kazuhiko Kondo, Rissho University, Tokyo, Japan: “'Moral Economy' retried in digital archives”

Michael Ralph, NYU, New York: “Actuarial Time, Work-Discipline and Industrial Capitalism; or, The Making of the American Working Class”

Nikos Potamianos, University of Crete, Greece: “Moral Economy? Popular demands, liberalism and state intertervention in the struggle over anti-profiteering laws in Greece, 1916-1925”

Comment: Vince BrownHarvard University




10:30 – 11:00 AM: Coffee Break


11:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Class Formation

Anna Hájková, University of Warwick, UK: “The Bright Young Things of the Holocaust: The Terezín ghetto as a society of inequalities”

Joseph Fronczak, Yale, New Haven: “The Making of the Global Left: Thompsonian Political Formation and the Worldwide Sitdown Strike Movement of 1936”

Cemil Boyraz, Istanbul Biligi University, Turkey: Class in the Age of Global Capitalism: The Case of Post-1980 Privatization in Turkey”

D. Parthasarathy, Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, India: “The Poverty of (Marxist) Theory: Peasant Classes, Provincial Capital, and the Critique of Globalization in India”

Comment: Michele LamontHarvard University



1:00 PM – 2:00 PM: Lunch


Register HERE