War-time Experiences of Workers at the Calcutta Port

This event has finished Took place on: Monday, 15th Jul 2019

This talk expounds the deeply politicizing nature of the experiences of the workers at the Port of Calcutta during the Second World War

The fall of imperial port cities of Singapore in February 1942, and then Rangoon, March 1942, signalled the vulnerability of the British Empire, albeit in multiple ways, across Eastern India and beyond. In such a context, the Quit India Movement reverberated at the Port of Calcutta despite the reluctance of labour leaders. As the chaos of the empire unfolded in front of the eyes of the workers, the war exacerbated exploitation despite all the concessions that the Port workers as ‘essential’ workers wrenched from their employers. With the opening of China-Burma-India theatre of the World War II in the summer of 1942, Calcutta Port became one of the key ports for the Allies. The port of Calcutta was being radically transformed to serve as a military port in a context when the end of the Raj was already visible, a monumental effort that strained the labour relations to their extreme. This talk in focussing on Port labour during the war reflects on the everyday and momentous experiences of the labouring section of the population as they shaped labour politics in the crucial years before Indian independence. It will underline the deeply politicizing nature of the war-time experiences of the Port workers.

Prerna Agarwal is postdoctoral fellow at the Economic History Department, LSE. She received her PhD in History and Contemporary India at the India Institute, King’s College London. Her doctoral research was on: ‘Planting the Red Flag: early communists and the politics of labour at the port of Calcutta, 1920s-1940s’. 

Cost: Free of Charge


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2019-07-15 2019-07-15 Europe/London War-time Experiences of Workers at the Calcutta Port This talk expounds the deeply politicizing nature of the experiences of the workers at the Port of Calcutta during the Second World War https://www.ianvisits.co.uk/calendar/2019/07/15/war-time-experiences-of-workers-at-the-calcutta-port-204742 The British Library,96 Euston Road, London,London,London

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