ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

14 – Servitude and Mobility in Pre-Colonial and Colonial South Asia

Occupational mobility is a significant theme to understand various aspects of caste, class, gender, labour, migration etc., in South Asia. Numerous writings on colonial and post-colonial India have examined the fluid nature of caste as people have been involved in occupations beyond their prescribed identities.

Convenors

Heena Heena - School of History Classics and Archaeology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Crispin Bates - School of History, Classics and Archaeology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Marina Carter - School of History, Classics and Archaeology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Long Abstract

Occupational mobility is a significant theme to understand various aspects of caste, class, gender, labour, migration etc., in South Asia. Numerous writings on colonial and post-colonial India have examined the fluid nature of caste as people have been involved in occupations beyond their prescribed identities. Scholars have also mapped people’s changing choices of work and professions through the lens of gender, marriage and migratory patterns. In line with this historiography, this panel examines the scope of occupational mobility in pre-colonial and colonial India. The flexibility of occupation which followed from the economic, political and technological transformations during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was rife in almost all types of works. Although it did not reach to all sections of society and some groups such as scavengers got further consolidated and continued on the same old design, it did transform the Indian labour market and service industry. This panel invites papers which investigates the causes and processes of mobile/immobile work patterns within specific occupations and outside it during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It investigates the social and administrative structures of local regimes which regulated or facilitated the promotion and demotion of various occupational groups and individuals. The panel also focuses on the aspects of change/continuity which appeared with the coming of British contractual system.