Empire, Industry and Class: The Imperial Nexus of Jute, 1840-1940, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Empire, Industry and Class

The Imperial Nexus of Jute, 1840-1940, 1st Edition

By Anthony Cox


272 pages

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Presenting a new approach towards the social history of working classes in the imperial context, this book looks at the formation of working classes in Scotland and Bengal. It analyses the trajectory of labour market formation, labour supervision, cultures of labour and class formation between two regional economies – one in an imperial country and the other in a colonial one.

The book examines the everyday lives of the jute workers of the imperial nexus, and the impact of the ‘Dundee School’ of Scottish mechanics, engineers and managers who ran the Calcutta jute industry. It goes on to challenge existing theories of imperialism, class formation and class struggle – particularly those that underline the exceptional nature of the Indian experience of industrialization - and demonstrates how and why Empire was able to provide an opportunity to test and perfect ways of controlling the lower classes of Dundee. These historical debates have a continued relevance as we observe the impact of globalization and rapid industrialization in the so-called developing world and the accompanying changes in many areas of the developed world marked by de-industrialization. The book is of use to scholars of imperial history, labour history, British history and South Asian history.


'A valuable contribution to scholars of Imperial, labour, British and East Asian history… [and] above all else a significant addition to the histories of Dundee, Calcutta, the jute industry and, uniquely, to the relationship between them.' - Mike Arnott, Secretary, Dundee Trades Union Council, DL Scotland.

"The book provides a vivid challenge to the 'remarkable' story of the jute school of history, with a telling remonder of its toxic legacy for the peoples of Calcutta and Dundee" - W.W.J Knox, The University of St. Andrews

"The book is an important contribution to the history of labor in Britain, India, and the British Empire. It uses the "twin cities" of jute, Dundee and Calcutta, to examine the working-class experience in an imperial context.[…] Labor historians will likely be the main audience for this book, but scholars interested in imperial history will be rewarded with a good example of comparative history that recovers the experiences of everyday people living in, and traveling across, imperial spaces." - Jonathan E. Robins, Michigan Technological University, Published on H-Empire (December, 2013)

Table of Contents

Introduction 1. The making and re-making of the imperial nexus of jute, 1840-1940 2. The coming of the up-countrymen: labour conditions and classformation in the Bengal jute industry, 1875-1910 3. The making of Juteopolis and the imperial nexus of jute, 1875-1910 4. Working class militancy and labor politics in Juteopolis, 1885-1923 5. Challenging the jute wallahs: Non-Co-operation, communism and the Marwaris, 1918-30 6. The imperial nexus and labor politics in Dundee during the 1920s 7. The breaking of the Dundee-Calcutta nexus, 1930-40 8. Conclusion

About the Author

Anthony Cox is currently involved in teaching at the Centre of Continuing Education at Dundee University, UK. His research interests include comparative labour history and eighteenth century Scottish radicalism.

About the Series

Routledge/Edinburgh South Asian Studies Series

This series is published in association with the Centre for South Asian Studies, Edinburgh University - one of the leading centres for South Asian Studies in the UK with a strong interdisciplinary focus. It presents research monographs and high-quality edited volumes as well as textbook on topics concerning the Indian subcontinent from the modern period to contemporary times. It aims to advance understanding of the key issues in the study of South Asia, and contributions include works by experts in the social sciences and the humanities. In accordance with the academic traditions of Edinburgh, we particularly welcome submissions which emphasise the social in South Asian history, politics, sociology and anthropology, based upon thick description of empirical reality, generalised to provide original and broadly applicable conclusions.

The series welcomes new submissions from young researchers as well as established scholars working on South Asia, from any disciplinary perspective.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Asia / India & South Asia
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General