Conference Videos, February 2017, Delhi

These are the links to the select panel discussions and presentations held at Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), New Delhi in February 2017.

  1. This panel ‘Across Temporalities’ consisting of three presentations and the subsequent discussion highlights the role of domestic servitude and its various forms in the social history of South Asia. Three leading scholars of their fields, who are prominent experts in their time periods (Uma Chakravarti for ancient, Sunil Kumar for medieval, and Samita Sen for modern and contemporary) discuss a wide range of issues related to slavery, servitude, identities, households, resistance, and not least, law.


2. This panel ‘Bibis and Ayahs’ takes up the issue of ‘sexual labour’ of bibis as well as waged-work of ayahs in the Anglo-Indian households of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The presenters, Ruchika Sharma, Satyasikha and Nitin Varma, through the use of a variety of sources – visuals, wills, testimonies and divorce trials – address the question of servants’ proximity to their masters and mistresses while at the same time also highlight the historical process of the making of the category of ‘domestic servant’, which is tied to the process of sexual and moral labour performed by female domestics in these households.


3. In the panel ‘Who are Servants?’, the speakers, Nitin Sinha and Lakshmi Subramanian, focus on colonial Calcutta and colonial Surat of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, to talk about the social and juridical identities of domestic servants in Anglo-Indian and Indian mercantile households respectively. By way of doing it, they also highlight the importance of judicial archives and of other sources in the writing of the servants’ pasts.


4. In the panel ‘Across Popular Cultures’ Ravikant (Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi) Ramu Kaka vs. Raheem Chacha: Cinematic Servants’ Cultural Moorings. Camille Buat (Centre for Modern Indian Studies, University of Göttingen & Centre d’Histoire de Sciences Po, Paris, France) Labor Market Segmentation, Circulation and Representation of Work: Exploring the concept of Naukri in the Bidesiya tradition.


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