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Servants’ Pasts: Sixteenth to Eighteenth Century, South Asia: Vol. 1

Nitin Varma (Author) Nitin Sinha (Author)

Domestic servants have always been, and continue to be, ubiquitous in the households of middle and upper income rural and urban South Asia. They are also strikingly visible in art forms: paintings, sculptures, photographs, cinema, plays, stories, etc. Yet, they remain absent from scholarly research with very few recent exceptions. Domestic service was an important category of labour and social relationships in early modern and colonial India but the domestic servant has largely remained absent from historians’ accounts of South Asia. Servants’ Pasts, Sixteenth to Eighteenth Century South Asia, Vol. 1, much like Vol. 2, covers a range of polities; it specifically explores the period from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, and provides untold accounts of the ideals and practices of master/mistress-servant relationships during that period. Young and seasoned scholars from diverse backgrounds use various sources—stories, letters, ledges, visuals, biographies, chronicles, newspaper reports and legal injunctions—to unravel the complex relationships around service and servitude. Contract, loyalty, patronage, ethical concerns and not least, coercion—both affectionate and violent—mark the nature of this relationship. 

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About the author

Nitin Sinha

Nitin Sinha is Senior Research Fellow, Leibniz Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin, and Principal Investigator of the European Research Council-funded project, ‘Domestic Servants in Colonial India’ (ERC-Stg. 2015–18). Nitin Varma is Fellow, International Research Center ‘Work and Human Life Cycle in Global History (Re: Work), Berlin.


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Bibliographic information

Title Servants’ Pasts: Sixteenth to Eighteenth Century, South Asia: Vol. 1
Author Nitin Varma
Nitin Sinha
Format Hardcover
Date published: 04.11.2019
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
isbn 9789352876648
length 440p.
Subjects History