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Title: Child labour in the Bombay presidency, 1850-1920
Author: Alexander, Emma Catherine
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2002
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This dissertation argues that the identity of the child in late colonial India was primarily that of a labourer. The institutional functioning of family and the social organisation of caste have obscured the history of childhood in the subcontinent, and as a result, the history of child labour remains unwritten. However, in the mid-nineteenth century the colonial state introduced new legislation, institutions and social practices which identified the child labourer as an individual. The thesis analyses the contribution of child labour to the household and to agricultural economy of the Bombay Presidency, and emphasises the importance of familial labour patterns. Such patterns continued in the urban setting, shaping the child's experience of work, receiving wages and contributing to the family income, although migrant families were constituted differently from their rural counterparts. Through an analysis of factory legislation, the emergence of the child as the centre of debates concerning industrial development is traced. Investigation and regulation of factory labour necessitated the definition of the child by the colonial state. However, the regulatory regime was frequently evaded; systems of registration and certification and violation were abused, and the colonial state did little to enforce laws concerning the hours worked by children. Moreover, factory children suffered from a disproportionate number of accidents in the dangerous industrial environment. These developments are set in the context of living conditions outside the factory: crises involving housing, diet, health, death, opium, alcohol, and possible destitution determined the everyday survival of children in the city. The colonial state's discourse of child protection involved state utilisation of mission orphanages. Fear over juvenile delinquency in industrialising Bombay led to the institutionalisation of child labour in reformatories. Finally, the thesis examines the emergence of the child in the context of the educational debates of the nineteenth century.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral