School of Livelihoods and Development

Grameen Talk Series (2nd Talk)


Date and time: Sept. 17, 2020 3:30PM - 4:30PM

Venue: Zoom Meeting Meeting ID: 934 0794 8849 Passcode: 321766


The Rural Development & Governance MA program, School of Livelihoods and Development, TISS Hyderabad invites you for the second interactive lecture of the weekly Grameen Talk Series.


Topic: Gender and Caste on Famine Public Works in Colonial North India

Speaker:. Madhavi Jha

Date: 17th September 2020 (Thursday)

Time: 3:30 p.m IST

Abstract of the Talk

The second half of the nineteenth century was marked by famines and scarcities in different parts of India. Famine public works were one of the main measures of relief undertaken by the colonial state. Carried out under the supervision of the Public Works Department and civil administration, famine public works included construction work (mainly earthwork) on roads, railways, canals, and tanks in return for a subsistence wage. A large number of women (up to fifty percent) worked on these construction projects as diggers and carriers. A critical reading of the famine records from the late nineteenth century allows us to construct the working lives of these women, the different aspects of their wages, diet, and work. This presentation will specifically analyse the spatial organisation of famine public works and the types of mobilities engendered on them, to uncover the production and reproduction of caste and gender in late nineteenth-century north India. The presentation will contextualize the conditions of work and mobility for the work of women from labouring caste households within the extant rural stratification.


Madhavi Jha

Madhavi Jha's doctoral research is on “Labouring Women and Public Works in Colonial North India” at JNU, New Delhi. While finishing a book manuscript on the history of women construction workers, her
research devolves around issues of labor, gender, caste, social history,
and economic history.