The servant/employer relationship in nineteenth century England and India
This thesis juxtaposes the relationship between domestic servants and their employers in metropole (England) and colony (India) between 1850 and 1914. It considers the master/servant relationship as a site for the formation, maintenance and contestation of class, gender, race and national identities. As well as exploring the significance of the relationship in terms of the construction of social identities, this thesis also argues that in certain circumstances the servant/employer relationship could take on an unexpected political significance. For Britain this is considered in relation to the labour and women’s movements. For India, the connection between service and notions o f ‘the Indian’ is linked to the perceived purpose of the imperial project and fear amongst colonizers of nascent Indian nationalism. The structure of service engendered certain ‘the tensions of intimacy’, which could spill into violence. These are explored in both contexts, with reference to the effects of the employment of a primarily female service workforce in Britain, and a male workforce in India.