Abstract

Abstract:

The intimately mundane matter of sleeping quarters—of beds, blankets, and pillows—would seem a subject better suited to the domain of cultural history than to that of either labor history or the international political economy of the interwar years. And yet, in 1921, these objects became the focus of the newly created International Labour Organization (ILO) in Geneva, Switzerland. This article examines how the ILO addressed the problematic conditions in which farmworkers all over Europe were housed. It focuses on the way the ILO sought to define the needs of the farmworker and therefore assimilated as much as language from industrial settings as possible, identifying the "agricultural worker" as a hybrid whose situation both differed from and resembled that of factory workers. The ILO's investigations into the"living-in conditions" of hired farm labor offer a glimpse into the complexity of labor relations in the agricultural sector and the difficulty of viewing paid farmwork as just another form of wage paid labor.

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