Maids in movement: Unionising domestic workers in India

King's College London

Monday, Jun 06, 2022
4:30 PM - 6:30 PM (UTC)

Registration Required


King's College London




Virt India

Hear from Professor Samita Sen (University of Cambridge) on the class, gender, domestic workers and unions. This annual lecture is hosted by the King's India Institute, as part of their 10th anniversary celebrations, for the British Association of South Asian Studies (BASAS).

Following Convention 189 (2011) of the International Labour Organization (ILO), domestic workers have emerged as a significant category of workers and as subjects of both women’s and workers’ politics. They have posed challenging questions of class and gender, which the mainstream in both these movements have found difficult to answer. 

While there has been considerable associational activity in different parts of the world, there are also new and emerging challenges.  In the Indian context, associations of domestic workers, few and small no doubt, are demanding the status of trade unions.  This is a dynamic moment and both working conditions, as well as movements, are being continually redefined.  It is in this context Professor Sen seeks to explore the workers relationship with and responses to attempts at collectivization.

About the speaker

Professor Samita Sen's (Cambridge University) research looks at gender and labour. Her monograph, Women and Labour in Late Colonial India (Cambridge University Press, 1999) won the Trevor Reese Prize in Commonwealth History.

Her specialisation is colonial South Asia but she has also done contemporary and interdisciplinary research on issues such as domestic violence and labour in the informal sector.

She has been active in the women’s movement in India and internationally, and participated in both the governmental and non-governmental fora of the Beijing Conference (1995). She has been a member of a Calcutta-based voluntary association of women, Sachetana, since 1983.

About the British Association for South Asian Studies

The British Association for South Asian Studies (BASAS) is the largest UK academic association for the study of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives, and the South Asian diaspora.



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