Synopses & Reviews
The port of colonial Calcutta was amongst the great trading centers of Asia. Indians exported vast quantities of grain, cotton, tea, and opium, and imported armaments, textiles, and other manufactured items through this port. Thousands of men and women helped load and unload cargoes facilitating this trade.
This book is a study of state power, technological change, and class conflict at the port of colonial Calcutta. It explores the period between 1860 and 1910 in order to recast historical understandings of the relationship between the colonial state, science and technology, and labor. In this period, the British Raj made significant investments to this port in order to support the shift in global shipping from sail to steam. This included the building of warehouses and railroads, jetties and wharves, and the Kidderpore wet dock system. It also involved a transformation in labor management. Examining how the port's modernization affected the port workforce, the author examines in particular its impact on class formation that emerged as laborers resisted through acts of everyday resistance and organized strikes. He analyses how these workers and the process of their class formation, in turn, affected the port's managers and influenced their decisions. Drawing on research based on primary sources collected from archives located in India, this book sheds light on a history of class conflict and modernization as it unfolded in the premier port city of British India. It will be of interest to academics of Modern Indian history, labour history, and the histories of science and technology.
In the days of the British Raj Calcutta was a great port city. Thousands of men, women, and children worked there, loading and unloading valuable cargoes that sustained the regional economy, and contributed significantly to world trade. In the second half of the nineteenth century, in response to a shift from sailing ships to steamers, port authorities in Calcutta began work on a massive modernization project.
This book is the first study of port labor in colonial Calcutta and British India. Drawing on primary source material, including government documents and newspaper records, the author demonstrates how the modernization process worsened class conflict and highlights the important part played by labor in the shaping of the port's modernization. Class Conflict and Modernization in India places this history in a comparative context, highlighting the interconnected nature of port and port labor histories. It examines how the port's modernization affected the port workforce and the port's managers, as well as the impact on class formation that emerged as labourers resisted through acts of everyday resistance and organized strikes.
A detailed study of state power, technological change, and class conflict, this book will be of interest to academics of modern Indian history, labour history and the history of science and technology.