For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Laboring the Earth: Transnational Reflections on the Environmental History of Work"

by Barca, Stefania (2014)


This article explores the intersection of work and nature in environmental history, and it reflects on possible new paths of investigation. More specifically, it focuses on physical labor performed in agriculture and industry—especially in the last two centuries—questioning how experiences in farming, mining, and manufacturing historically have shaped the relationship between working-class people and their environments. Based on secondary literature in English, Italian, and Portuguese, and on original research, the article proposes a tentative interpretative framework for the environmental history of work that incorporates analysis of the landscape as evidence of past human labor, the workplace and its relationship with the local community, and working-class and labor environmental activism. Ultimately, the article highlights the need to investigate the labor/environment dichotomy as a cultural and political construct and seeks to contribute to the formulation of labor-friendly sustainability policies.


History, Environmental History, Nature, Working Class, Culture, Sustainability



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