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ILO Histories

Essays on the International Labour Organization and Its Impact on the World During the Twentieth Century


Edited By Jasmien Van Daele, Magaly Rodriguez Garcia and Geert van Goethem

In 2009, the International Labour Organization (ILO) celebrated its ninetieth anniversary. The First World War and the revolutionary wave it provoked in Russia and elsewhere were powerful inspirations for the founding of the ILO. There was a growing understanding that social justice, in particular by improving labour conditions, was an essential precondition for universal peace. Since then, the ILO has seen successes and set-backs; it has been ridiculed and praised. Much has been written about the ILO; there are semi-official histories and some critical studies on the organization’s history have recently been published. Yet, further source-based critical and comprehensive analyses of the organization’s origins and development are still lacking. The present collection of eighteen essays is an attempt to change this unsatisfactory situation by complementing those histories that already exist, exploring new topics, and offering new perspectives. It is guided by the observation that the ILO’s history is not primarily about «elaborating beautiful texts and collecting impressive instruments for ratification» but about effecting «real change and more happiness in peoples’ lives».


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11 “Intellectual Workers” and Their Search for a Place Within the ILO During the Interwar Period 271


8=6EI:G “Intellectual Workers” and Their Search for a Place Within the >AD During the Interwar Period Christophe Verbruggen I consider it important, indeed urgently necessary, for intellectual workers to get together, both to protect their own economic status and also, generally speaking, to secure their inf luence in the political f ield. Albert Einstein, Introduction: “Travailleur intellectuel, qui êtes-vous?” In the past decades a lot of research has been done on the history of intel- lectual sociability and the transnational group formation of intellectuals. Almost simultaneously, the history of intellectual professions has come under the attention of social historians. In the comparative historiography of professionalization, most attention has gone to the ideal typical profes- sions: lawyers, medical doctors, architects, academics, teachers, etc. This historiography has demonstrated that the founding of professional associa- tions in the nineteenth century was one of the crucial elements in the pan- European and international process of professionalization. In more recent work the two approaches to the history of intellectuals have come togeth- er. It is not only important to pay attention, from a national or compara- “Intellectual worker, who are you?” In particular, see Trebitsch, “Organisations internationales de coopération intellec- tuelle dans l’entre-deux-guerres”; Charle et al., Transnational Intellectual Networks; Tre- bitsch et al., Sociabilités intellectuelles. Lieux, milieux, réseaux. Among other surveys, see Conze et al., “Einleitung”, and Rueschemeyer, “Compar- ing Legal Professions Cross-Nationally”. For an overview, see Sapiro, “Les professions intellectuelles entre l’état, l’entreprenariat et l’industrie”. See the contributions...

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