My research is concerned with social and economic change in British India and the late Ottoman Empire. I am particularly interested in questions of gender, skill, technology and temporality in the context of menial work, crafts and professional labour. My PhD dissertation explored gendered aspects of employment and class politics in Ottoman silk factories and Indian cotton mills between 1850 and 1910. The rapid expansion and success of these industries from the second half of the century derived from similar business strategies, including the use of labour-intensive techniques and an advanced division of labour along gender lines. I currently work on a book project that derives from my PhD thesis.
I completed my doctoral thesis, titled ‘A Comparative History of Gender and Factory Labour in Ottoman Bursa and Colonial Bombay’, in 2017. This study explored the ways in which gendered notions of skill, paid work, domesticity and technology shaped labour processes and politics in the silk factories of Bursa and the cotton mills of Bombay between 1850 and 1910. Contrary to a scholarly tradition that placed the late Ottoman and British Indian experiences in distinct categories, my thesis highlighted common mechanisms of adaptation and survival in the age of European industrial hegemony. These involved the development of flexible and low-cost production strategies which confined female workers to crude and subsidiary tasks and associated skill with masculine virtues. During my graduate studies I visited various libraries and archives in Cambridge, London, Istanbul, Bursa, Mumbai, New Delhi and Kolkata. I am currently working on a book project which will extend my original analysis to neighbouring textile-manufacturing towns in Western Anatolia and the Bombay Presidency.
The Politics of Time in Colonial Bombay: Labor Patterns and Protest in Cotton Mills
Journal of Social History
PARALLELS AND CONTRASTS IN GENDERED HISTORIES OF INDUSTRIAL LABOUR IN BURSA AND BOMBAY 1850–1910
The Historical Journal
<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:p>Textile manufacturing in India and the Ottoman Empire transformed fundamentally in the nineteenth century, when mass-produced goods imported from Europe permeated local markets. Faced with increasing competition from abroad, local producers changed their techniques, materials, designs, and target customers. At the same time, processing industries emerged in places with intense mercantile activity, introducing new meanings, relations, and patterns of work. This article investigates the role played by gender in the shaping of labour markets and class politics in two export-oriented industries that developed simultaneously: the silk-reeling industry in Bursa and the cotton-spinning industry in Bombay. It shows that the secondary economic value attributed to women's work, combined with rural connections of workers, brought down wages and subsidized capitalist profits in both sectors. Within the emerging industrial workforce, ideas about appropriate roles for women and men provided the vocabulary and constituted boundaries of class politics. Bringing gender into the debate of industrial development and class, the article reveals parallels and contrasts in two non-European settings that are rarely compared in the existing historiographies.</jats:p>