1st Edition

The Imperial Underbelly Workers, Contractors, and Entrepreneurs in Colonial India and Scandinavia

Edited By Gunnel Cederlöf Copyright 2023
    238 Pages 22 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge India

    238 Pages 22 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge India

    The volume introduces a new analysis of interconnected labour and economic history of colonial India and Scandinavia. From a recently found archive of a railway contractor’s private and business papers, the studies revise both Indian labour history and Scandinavian modern history, and ties south Sweden into the British Empire. With deep insights into everyday work practices of Indian and European contractors and manual labourers, the book establishes a bridge across the globe, between two poor regions as sites of extraction and industrial transformation, resulting from global migration and capital flows. Drawing on rich archival sources such as the Joseph Stephens Archive, Maharashtra State Archives, the National Archives of India, and the British Library, the book offers deep insights into everyday business practices of European contractors in India, which were rarely documented and have remained largely inaccessible so far.

    A unique look into the labour and entrepreneurship practices under British colonial rule in India, as well as its impact on the most transformative years of modern southern Scandinavia, the book will be of great interest to students, academics, and teachers of history, labour studies, subaltern studies, colonialism, imperialism, economic history, railways, economics, and Scandinavian and South Asian studies.

    List of Illustrations

    List of Contributors



    1.      ‘Circular Migrations, Capital, and Opportunity: A Global History of Scandinavia and India at the Industrial Turn’

    Gunnel Cederlöf


    2.      ‘The Life of Contract Capitalism and the Building of the Colonial Railway’

    Arun Kumar


    3.      ‘Bureaucracy and Ideologies of Control in British India: Locating Social and Professional Networks within the ‘Contract System’ in Railway Building’

    Radhika Krishnan


    4.      ‘Social Capital and its Limits in Fortune Making: Joseph Stephens’ Enterprises in India and Scandinavia, 1859–69’

    Dhiraj Kumar Nite


    5.      ‘Labour Practices and Wellbeing: Construction Workers in 1860s Western India’

    Dhiraj Kumar Nite


    6.      ‘Circulation of Knowledge, Capital and Goods: Scandinavia and the British Empire’

    Eleonor Marcussen


    7.      ‘Colonial Entrepreneurial Capital in the Industrialisation of Southern Sweden: The Huseby Estate under Joseph Stephens’

    Erik Wångmar


    8.      ‘Fulfilling One’s Duty, Making a Future: The Iron Master’s Daughters and the Unceasing Project of Rearing a Family’

    Malin Lennartsson




    List of Publications from research in the Huseby Estate and Joseph Stephens Archives




    Gunnel Cederlöf, Professor of History, Linnaeus University, Sweden, and member of the Linnaeus University Centre for Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies. She specialises in the environmental, legal, and colonial history of India and South Asia. She has taught at Uppsala University and KTH Royal Institute of Technology. She is the author of Founding an Empire on India’s North-Eastern Frontiers, 1790-1840: Climate, Commerce, Polity (2014), Landscapes and the Law: Environmental Politics, Regional Histories, and Contests over Nature (2008, 2019), Bonds Lost: Subordination, Conflict and Mobilisation in Rural South India c. 1900-1970 (1997, 2020), At Nature’s Edge: The Global Present and Long-Term History (2018 with M. Rangarajan), Subjects, Citizens and Law: Colonial and independent India (2017 with S. Das Gupta), and Ecological Nationalisms: Nature, Livelihoods, and Identities in South Asia (2006, 2014 with K. Sivaramakrishnan).