Workers' Libraries in Colonial Bombay

A Short History of the 'Empress Mills', Nagpur: Golden Jubilee (Bombay, 1927). [British Library Asia, Pacific & Africa V 24128]
Book now

A history of workers' libraries in colonial Bombay with historian Dr Arun Kumar

This is an online event hosted on Zoom. Bookers are sent a link in advance giving access.

Arun Kumar discusses an unusual theme of India’s labouring class history: workers’ libraries. The early 20th-century Bombay city was dotted with many peripatetic and ephemeral working-class libraries. Located in various labouring-class neighbourhoods, these libraries were founded to create an aware working-class and bring them into the ethos of industrial city life. Exploring the reports of these libraries, Arun explores how workers developed a taste for literacy and reading, and participated in these libraries as active agents. 

This talk is part of Arun's overall argument that the labouring castes in urban India did not just visualise themselves as performing labour. With education, the workers’ life experiences included book and pamphlet reading, aspirations for non-labouring jobs, educational plans for children. 

Dr Arun Kumar is a historian of modern India with an interest in social, economic, education and labour history. He is an Assistant Professor of British Imperial and Colonial History at Nottingham University. His work explores different facets of working-class life histories including their aspirations, education, night-time histories, and childhood. He is currently working on his first book-project on working-class/caste education in modern India.

Image: from A Short History of the 'Empress Mills', Nagpur: Golden Jubilee (Bombay, 1927). [British Library Asia, Pacific & Africa V 24128]

The British Library is a charity. Your support helps us open up a world of knowledge and inspiration for everyone. Donate today.




Name: Workers' Libraries in Colonial Bombay
Where: British Library St Pancras
When: -
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546
Book now

* Please note that there is a £1.50 transaction fee when tickets are posted, or for telephone sales when an e-ticket is requested.