Volume 46 part 3 (December 2001)
Mary Hilson, Labour Politics in a Naval Dockyard: The Case of Karlskrona, Sweden c. 1880-1925
Naval dockyards have been largely neglected by labour historians, a surprising omission given their importance as industrial workplaces with a distinct culture of labour and labour relations. This article considers labour politics in Karlskrona dockyard, Sweden, in the light of a growing body of research on work and labour relations in the British and other European dockyards. Evidence from Karlskrona suggests that, rather than being repressed by military discipline or bought off by generous state benefits, the dockyard workforce drew on aspects of its unique relationship with the national state to improve working conditions. Particular attention is given to the role of the dockyard trade union in creating a sense of workforce identity as state employees. This is in contrast to the British dockyards where unionism was founded on the rigid division of labour in the shipbuilding industry.
Linda Reeder, Conflict Across the Atlantic: Women, Family and Mass Male Migration in Sicily, 1880-1920
This article looks at the effect of transoceanic migration on rural Sicilian families. The author focuses on the conflicts, stresses, and transformations experienced by members of transnational families. While the reality of migration rarely reflected the popular notion that emigration would ruin families, the experience did create deep divisions between migrant men and the women who remained behind. Even before men migrated, husbands and wives struggled over the initial decision to emigrate. From their differing positions within the family, men and women separately weighed the potential benefits and risks of migration. When women encouraged their husbands to work overseas, the experience of migration often created new dreams and opportunities that divided family members. This essay highlights the deeply gendered nature of transnational migration, and the role of the family in altering ideas of husband, wife, mother, and father.
Willem van Schendel, Working Through Partition: Earning a Living in the Bengal Borderlands
Partition, the break-up of colonial India in 1947, has been the subject of considerable serious historical research, but almost exclusively from two distinctive perspectives: as a macropolitical event; or as a cultural and personal disaster. Remarkably, very little is known about the socioeconomic impact of Partition on different localities and individuals. This exploratory essay considers how Partition affected working people's livelihood and labour relations. The essay focuses on the northeastern part of the subcontinent, where Partition created an international border separating East Bengal - which became East Pakistan, then Bangladesh - from West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, and other regions which joined the new state of India. Based largely on evidence contained in "low-level" state records, the author explores how labour relations for several categories of workers in the new borderland changed during the period of the late 1940s and 1950s.