A Comparative History of Gender and Factory Labour in Ottoman Bursa and Colonial Bombay, c.1850-1910
This thesis explores the gendered dynamics of industrialisation in the late Ottoman Empire and British India. It examines the ways in which gendered notions of skill, waged work, domesticity and technology shaped employment patterns, labour processes and politics in silk factories in Bursa and cotton mills in Bombay between 1850 and 1910. The project undermines the notion that women's labour was incidental to the development of large-scale factory enterprise in Ottoman and Indian lands. I argue that the confinement of women to labour-intensive and low-paid occupations within and outside the factory brought down wages and provided flexibility to mechanised production. This flexibility was key to the survival and rapid growth of the export-oriented industries in Bursa and Bombay. The common mechanisms of women's marginalisation in the workforce included segregation, masculinisation of machinery, vertical organisation of trade unions, male-controlled recruitment processes and the household division of labour. The extent to which women influenced employment practices depended on the availability of external mediation as well as their means to subvert notions of victimhood, domesticity, honour and duty. In connecting the Ottoman and Indian paths to industrialisation from a gender perspective, the project destabilises male-centric approaches to the global history of economy, labour and technology.