Women and Labour in Late Colonial India: The Bengal Jute Industry

Overview

Samita Sen's history of laboring women in Bengal in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries considers how social constructions of gender shaped their lives. The author demonstrates how the long-term trends in the Indian economy devalued women's labor, establishing patterns of urban migration and changing gender equations within the family. She relates these trends to the spread of dowry, enforced widowhood and child marriage. The study will make a significant contribution to the understanding of the ...

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Overview

Samita Sen's history of laboring women in Bengal in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries considers how social constructions of gender shaped their lives. The author demonstrates how the long-term trends in the Indian economy devalued women's labor, establishing patterns of urban migration and changing gender equations within the family. She relates these trends to the spread of dowry, enforced widowhood and child marriage. The study will make a significant contribution to the understanding of the social and economic history of colonial India and to notions of gender construction.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Women and Labour in Late Colonial India is an excellent example of women's history. In this book, Sen forces us to look at how women's lives as jute mill workers followed different trajectories than those of men, weaves a story of the complex relationship between gender and class, and insists we view the historical construction of gender as a process deeply embedded in economic, political and social processes...a must read for scholars and students of colonial history, labor history, and women's history." The Historian

"This work is an important explanation of the interplay of gender and class." Choice

"...ambitious study...Sen's work is thorough and informative...Sen's quest for working-class women's history in Bengali jute mills was a very challenging one, and she productively pushes our knowledge and questions further." American Historical Review

"Sen ventures into new territory with her assertion that gender is not secondary, but indeed primary, to the analysis of factory work. This is a must read for scholars and students of colonial history, labor history, and women's history," The Historian

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Product Details

Table of Contents

List of tables; Acknowledgements; List of acronyms and abbreviations; Glossary; Map: location of Jute mills along river Hooghly; Introduction; 1. Migration, recruitment and labour control; 2. 'Will the land not be tilled?': women's work in the rural economy; 3. 'Away from homes': women's work in the mills; 4. Motherhood, mothercraft and the Maternity Benefit Act; 5. In temporary marriages: wives, widows and prostitutes; 6. Working-class politics and women's militancy; Select bibliography; Index.

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