PhD Student Palak Vashist recently published an article in the Living Histories Journal, “Age as a Historical Category of Analysis: A Study of Bombay Textile Mills in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century”


This work utilises archival methods to examine the processes of identification authorized by the colonial state to establish the certification routine for children employed in the textile mills of Bombay in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Specifically, this project will investigate how colonial administrative and bureaucratic policies, along with the legal regulation of the Indian Factory Acts, naturalized ‘age’ as the category of identification for laboring children. This work argues that the colonial obsession with ‘age’ standardization is very much present in the contemporary law governing child labor in India, i.e. the Child Labor (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act. Therefore, the proposed research plans to center on ‘age’ as a historical category of analysis and its institutionalization with related processes of identification through the introduction of medico-legal procedures by the colonial state. The working hypothesis is that the ‘industrial child’ was produced as an age-based category through the interaction between these regulatory processes, a corrupt bureaucracy, and a superficial colonial concern for child protection.

Read the article here.