This study draws on extensive archival research to explore the social history of industrial labor in colonial India through the lens of well-being. Focusing on the cotton millworkers in Bombay in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the book moves beyond trade union politics and examines the complex ways in which the broader colonial society considered the subject of worker well-being.
As the author shows, worker well-being projects unfolded in the contexts of British Empire, Indian nationalism, extraordinary infant mortality, epidemic diseases, and uneven urban development. Srivastava emphasizes that worker well-being discourses and practices strove to reallocate resources and enhance the productive and reproductive capacities of the nation’s labor power. She demonstrates how the built urban environment, colonial local governance, public health policies, and deeply gendered local and transnational voluntary reform programs affected worker wellbeing practices and shaped working class lives.
- First full-length analysis of the social history of urbanized labor through the lens of well-being/ill-being
- Brings together scattered threads of labor, urban, gender, nationalist, medical, and social reform histories
- Examines the gendered nature of well-being practices and complicates the prevalent image of industrial workers as a gender-neutral mass
More about the book
Priyanka Srivastava, The Well-Being of the Labor Force in Colonial Bombay: Discourses and Practices (palsgrave macmillan, 2018). Hardcover.
About the author
Priyanka Srivastava is an Assistant Professor of History and Economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, MA.