MSAS Seminar: TT19: Week 3: Single in the City: Women, Migration and Domestic Work in India

Conveners: Faisal Devji, Polly O'Hanlon, Kate Sullivan de Estrada, Nayanika Mathur, Mallica Kumbera Landrus and Ali Jan

Speaker: Samita Sen (Cambridge)

The paper explores long-term patterns of mobility from the colonial period to understand women’s migration today in the specific context of domestic work.  In the colonial period, single women’s migration from village to city often resulted in their severance of links with the former.  They lost access to rural resources, which were contingent upon familial role fulfillment.  In recent years, with increase in migration of women domestic workers, new patterns have become discernible.  These shifts and changes challenge the current understanding of gender in migration studies in South Asia.

Professor Samita Sen is at present Vere Harmsworth Professor in Imperial and Naval History at Cambridge University.  She received her Ph.D from Cambridge in 1992.  She was First Vice Chancellor, Diamond Harbour Women’s University, 2013-2015 and Dean, Faculty of Interdisciplinary Studies, Law and Management at Jadavpur University, 2016-2017.  She has taught at Calcutta and Jadavpur University. Her monograph on women’s employment in the jute industry in colonial Bengal was published in 1999 and won the Trevor Reese Prize in Commonwealth History.  She is at present working on women’s migration in relation to tea and overseas plantations.  Her various research publications include issues such as education, the women’s movement, marriage, domestic violence, domestic workers, women in governance and women’s land rights.  Her recent publications are: jointly written Domestic Days (OUP, 2016); edited volumes Passage to Bondage (2016), Intimate Others (2010) and Mapping the Field (2011).