Dangerous Trade: Histories of Industrial Hazard across a Globalizing World

December 13-15, 2007, Stony Brook University

Though we Americans largely assume them under control, industrial hazards have quietly turned into one of the world’s foremost killers.
The global burden of deaths from work-related disease and injury alone in 1999, was 1.1 million, roughly the same toll as from malaria, and not counting the millions more who perished from pollution and other industrial exposures outside the workplace. Most experts project  these numbers will rise over the first half of the 21st century (WHO 1999), based on a continuing up-surge in the transnational movements of capital, companies, commodities, and people between nations that we have come to know as globalization. These trends, and episodes such as the recent discovery of lead-contaminated toys, have raised new concerns about the limits to national projects of environmental and occupational hazard control. The time is ripe for scholarly exploration and analysis of just how industrial hazards and their remedies have varied and traveled from nation to nation, place to place, across our globalizing world.

An international conference on the historical relationship between industrial hazards and globalization will be held December 13-15, 2007, at Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, N.Y. The conference will draw together scholars from many corners of the U.S. as well as the U.K., Europe, Asia and Australia.  Among the nearly thirty scholars in attendance, historians, joined by geographers, sociologists and anthropologists, and contemporary health practitioners, will present on-going work on the following themes:

* the making of hazardous industries in developing as well as the developed nations.

* knowing and controlling industrial hazards.

* cross-national passages in the making, recognition and remedy of industrial hazards.

* comparative and supra-national approaches to the history of industrial hazard.

On Thursday afternoon of the 13th, the conference will begin with two sessions on contemporary sessions on hazardous industries in the developing world.  These sessions are open without registration to the public. Registration is required for succeeding sessions, which  will revolve around discussions of pre-circulated papers.  These papers will focus especially on two more recent periods of global economic integration, the late nineteenth/early twentieth and the later twentieth centuries.  They will take up industries from mining to railroads to petrochemicals, and hazards from accidents to dust to air pollution to nuclear plants. Registered participants will have the opportunity to read the papers and participate in the discussions about ongoing research.

Download the  Dangerous Trade Flyer