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Learning to Dream: Education, Aspiration, and Working Lives in Colonial India (1880s-1940s)

dc.contributor.advisorViswanath, Rupa Prof. Dr.
dc.contributor.authorKumar, Arun
dc.titleLearning to Dream: Education, Aspiration, and Working Lives in Colonial India (1880s-1940s)de
dc.contributor.refereeBhattacharya, Neeladri Prof. Dr.
dc.description.abstractengThis thesis studies the relationship of the labouring poor with education and schooling in colonial India (1880s-1940s). It places this relationship in a complicated web of desires, intentions, and aspirations held by workers and their employers. Those who performed labour (artisans, agrarian labourers, factory-workers) and those who extracted labour (elites including factory employers, feudal elites, and colonial officials) had different expectations from the education system. The thesis centrally explores workers’ dreams of not wanting to be workers and not behaving as “workers” (the prescribed and expected identity of the labouring castes). I argue that these desires and dreams unfolded, became concrete, and were realized at the site of education, and took the form of aspirations for a non-labouring career. The educational site, however, due to its control by elites, was designed to retain workers as manual labour, while training, disciplining, and educating them to serve under various old and new regimes of labour (railway workshops, factories, missionary industries, artisanal workshops, agrarian farms). I have explored the successes, failures, and transformations of these contradictory desires and visions of workers and of elites, and have shown that various actors such as teachers, elite workers, female workers, the middle classes, and colonial officials often mediated and restructured these desires and visions at various levels. Childhood and the night, I argue, becomes the specific moments of working lives through which ideas and elements of these contradictory desires and visions were concretized. They become a site of contestation, with workers asserting their control over these times in order to realise their aspirations, and elites seeking to control these moments with the intention of producing a certain type of worker subjectivity that fit well with the logics of commodity production and labour extraction. Chapter 1 discusses the multiple desires and aspirations of Lucknow artisans, changes in their notions of childhood and night, and their relationship with the Lucknow Industrial School which sought to produce a trained and disciplined labour force for railway workshops and other modern industries. Chapter 2 narrates the experiences of Dalit agrarian labourers’ demand for education from missionaries, and their struggles to move out of a certain type of labouring regime. It also discusses the politics of Christian missionaries, Arya Samajis, and the Harijan Sevak Sangh, who all sought to keep “untouchables” tied to a labouring life. Chapter 3 describes the changing notions of childhood among factory workers and employers with regard to worker-children. I explore the histories of factory schools and workers’ demand for education as their “political right”. Chapter 4 unfolds the moment of the night as a site for workers to subvert the normative image of the worker. I study their attendance at night schools, night-time reading rooms and libraries, and their employers’ struggles to colonise workers’ nights and other leisure time. The thesis hopes to contribute to the history of labour, education, childhood, life-cycle, caste and class, Christian missions, poverty, leisure, and the reproduction of capitalist and conservative socio-economic order. It also opens up the field of proletarian childhood, working class literary culture, and the night as topics of research in the South Asian
dc.contributor.coRefereeBhavani, Raman Prof. Dr.
dc.subject.engSouth Asian Historyde
dc.subject.engWorking-Class Educationde
dc.subject.engColonial Indiade
dc.subject.engFactory, Night, Technical and Industrial Schoolsde
dc.subject.engNight-time and Childhood Studiesde
dc.affiliation.institutePhilosophische Fakultätde
dc.subject.gokfullGeschichte (PPN621341800)de
dc.identifier.ppn1666991813 1666649864

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