This introductory article is divided into two parts. Part 1 sketches a general picture of the origins and key concepts of Global labour history. Part 2 discusses the “new perspectives” proposed in the special issue – namely, a more dynamic methodological frame for “the global” and a broader chronological scope going back before 1500 – and highlights the impact they might have on the study of key themes in Global labour history such as the role of (free and unfree) labour relations in the process of labour commodification and the conceptualization of work and labour. The contribution of each article to the general discussion is briefly outlined.
Global labour history, Origins and key concepts, New perspectives, Free and unfree labour