Let’s Get to Work: Bringing Labor History and the History of Science Together

Conferences & Symposia
Thursday, June 2, 2022
2:00 p.m. EDT (UTC -4)
Science History Institute
315 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
United States

From the labor in the laboratory to the science in scientific management, the histories of labor and science are marked by intimate connections—many of which still await reflection and historical analysis. To provide a forum for productive conversation between historians of science and labor historians and to help address the pressing scholarly and political questions they share, the Science History Institute’s 2022 Gordon Cain Conference will explore the entanglements of science and labor as they have emerged around the globe between the 16th century and today.


Image of mural by José Clemente Orozco

Call to Revolution and Table of Universal Brotherhood (Science, Labor and Art) by José Clemente Orozco (1930–1931)

xennex via WikiArt


  • Thursday, June 2, 2022
    2:00 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.
  • Friday, June 3, 2022
    9:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.
  • Saturday, June 4, 2022
    9:15 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

View program details >


Conference Organizers

Alexandra (Alix) Hui is a historian of science specializing in the history and psychophysics of sound, and especially of sound studies in 19th- and 20th-century Germany. Among her publications is The Psychophysical Ear: Musical Experiments, Experimental Sounds, 1840–1910 and the coedited volume, Testing Hearing: The Making of Modern Aurality. She is an associate professor of history at Mississippi State University and coeditor in chief of Isis.

Lissa L. Roberts is editor in chief of History of Science and emeritus professor of history of science and technology in global context at University of Twente. Her many publications include Compound Histories: Materials, Governance and Production, 1760–1840 (with Simon Werrett); Centers and Cycles of Accumulation in and around the Netherlands; The Brokered World: Go-Betweens and Global Intelligence, 1770–1820 (with Simon Schaffer, Kapil Raj, and James Delbourgo); and The Mindful Hand: Inquiry and Invention from the Late Renaissance to Early Industrialization (with Simon Schaffer and Peter Dear).

Seth Rockman is an associate professor of history at Brown University. His book Scraping By: Wage Labor, Slavery, and Survival in Early Baltimore won multiple prizes including the Philip Taft Labor History Book Award. Rockman also coedited (with Sven Beckert) Slavery’s Capitalism: A New History of American Economic Development. Rockman has been a fellow at re:work, a global labor history research institute in Berlin, and currently serves on the editorial committee of Labor: Studies in Working-Class History.

Post-Conference Roundtable: Whose Work Matters?

Following the conference, the Institute’s Jesse Smith will host a discussion on the ways scientific roles are valued or undervalued. Learn more and register here.

More Information

Please send all inquiries to laborandscience@sciencehistory.org.

About the Gordon Cain Conference

The Gordon Cain Conference is a gathering of scholars in the history of science and related fields. Each conference is organized by an eminent scholar who worked with staff to develop a theme of broad contemporary relevance. Centered on a topic chosen by the conference organizer, the conference consists of an evening public lecture, a symposium, and a collected volume. It is hosted by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry and supported by a generous gift from Gordon Cain.