Regulating domestic service in colonial societies – report on the European Social Science History conference, 2018

 

In April Claire Lowrie attended the European Social Science History conference in Belfast as part of a panel on regulating domestic service in colonial societies. https://esshc.socialhistory.org/esshc-belfast-2018

Claire presented a paper on violent crimes committed by Chinese male servants in Singapore in the 1910s and 1920s. Shireen Ally gave a paper on regulating race and maternity in relation to African domestic servants in South Africa. Nitin Sinha explored how the regulation of bazaars in Calcutta in the eighteenth century impacted on Indian domestic servants. Nitin Varma discussed the failed attempts to introduce law regulating domestic service in India during the nineteenth century.

The panel was followed by a roundtable discussion with Victoria Haskins, Raffaella Sarti and Samita Sen on the concept of regulating domestic work in historical and contemporary contexts, and, in colonial and non-colonial contexts. One theme that emerged from the discussion was that while today the International Labour Organisation pressures states to regulate paid domestic work in order to protect the rights of workers, colonial era regulation often centred upon limiting the rights and personal freedoms of domestic workers.

The panel and the roundtable was organised by Nitin Sinha and Nitin Varma of as part of their European Research Council project called Servants Past. https://servantspasts.wordpress.com

 

 

New book by Claire Lowrie – Masters and Servants

Claire Lowrie, Masters and Servants: Cultures of Empire in the Tropics
(Manchester University Press, 2016)

Masters and servants explores the politics of colonial mastery and domestic servitude in the neighbouring British colonies of Singapore and Darwin. Through an exploration of master-servant relationships within British, white Australian and Chinese homes, this book illustrates the centrality of the domestic realm to the colonial project. It is the first comparative history of domestic service and British colonialism in the tropics, and highlights the important role which ‘houseboys’ played in colonial households in the tropics and the common preference for Chinese ‘houseboys’ throughout Southeast Asia.

For more information see:
http://www.manchesteruniversitypress.co.uk/9780719095337/