Emma Alexander is an historian of South Asia based at the University of Winnipeg in Manitoba, Canada. She has a law degree from SOAS (University of London), a BA and MA from UVic in Pacific & Asian Studies and History, and her Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in South Asian History. She specialises in histories of children, childhood, child labour, indentured labour migration. Her book on the abolition of Indentured labour migration is forthcoming in 2020.

The longue durée of Rana Plaza: colonial and neo-colonial histories of comparative negligence and gender in South Asia

My aim in this paper is to provide a longitudinal comparative analysis of the Rana Plaza disaster. Today we label the injuries and effects of industrial accidents as PTSD, trauma and discuss the “familial stigmas” Akhter (2014) found in her analysis of the diaster. My paper will discuss how these are simply new vocabularies, not new occurences. Most scholars have examined the immediate contemporary scenario and many, although not all have focused on the industry and not on the workers’ perspectives. Historically, the negligence of employers, factory owners, the double patriarchy of the home and the workplace have affected women workers since the advent of the industrial era in South Asia. I intend to place the Rana Plaza diaster within the continuum of the colonial and post-colonial legal and reguatory frameworks particularly in Bengal and Bombay where women workers laboured in the garment industry and its predecessors in jute and cotton factories and garment-making workshops in the colonial period.