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Journal Articles International Labor and Working-Class History Year : 2020

Segmented Possibilities: Migrant life Histories of Hindustani Workers in Post Colonial India

Abstract

Abstract Starting in the late 19 th century, workers from north India came to constitute the backbone of the urban and industrial labour force in Calcutta and neighboring mill municipalities. As they settled in and around the colonial metropolis, these Hindustani workers maintained strong connections with their rural homes. One generation after the other, they reproduced this dual settlement over the following decades. This bi-local structure of labour circulation, which linked village and city through the constant coming and going of men and women, progressively broke down from the late 20 th century onwards, following the closure of the large textile, engineering and paper industries which underpinned the economic vitality of the Calcutta region. The article sketches out the history of this socio-spatial configuration over the second half of the 20 th century, through the life histories of two migrant Hindustani workers. Born around 1940, Siraj Prajapati and Mohan Lal both spent the greater part of their working lives in Calcutta's industrial suburbs. Siraj, a potter by caste, was engaged in the artisanal production tea-cups in Howrah. Born into one of the most marginalized sections of north Indian society, Mohan managed to train as a mason, and was employed in the Titagarh Paper Mill through the 1960s and 70s. Both have now settled back in their respective villages of eastern Uttar Pradesh. Teasing out the contradictory ways in which both men frame their life trajectories, the article contributes a micro-perspective to the social history of rural-urban migration in post-colonial north India.
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Dates and versions

hal-03911359 , version 1 (22-12-2022)

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Camille Buat. Segmented Possibilities: Migrant life Histories of Hindustani Workers in Post Colonial India. International Labor and Working-Class History, 2020, 97, pp.134-158. ⟨10.1017/S014754792000006X⟩. ⟨hal-03911359⟩
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