Jan Lucassen and Radhika Seshan (eds.): Wage Earners in India 1500-1900: Regional Approaches in an International Context

About the book

The study of wage levels and the purchasing power of wages is often viewed as a specialized academic topic of little concern to the wider public. This is far from being the case, as this book demonstrates. The study of wages opens up vistas of the daily life of the working people, of their standards of living and, therefore, addresses questions of larger economic developments and unequal power relationships in a region.

Wage Earners in India 1500–1900: Regional Approaches in an International Context brings together several scholars—young and veteran—to study new data and reinterpret older data from a fresh methodological perspective to locate India within global economic systems more effectively. This book

  • identifies previously unused and unpublished material for the study of wages
  • underlines the importance of wages as a source of income for Indians from early times
  • demonstrates the trends in wages over the period under review
  • stresses the need to take women into account for the reconstruction of household income



Introduction: The Study of Wages in India 1500–1900

Wages, Income and Living Standards in Western India, 1510–1570 Hélder Carvalhal, Paulo Teodoro de Matos and Jan Lucassen

Wages and Prices in Madras c. 1650–1720 Radhika Seshan

Wages, Prices and Money in 18th-century Maharashtra Rekha Ranade

Wages in the 18th-century Maratha Region Surendra Arjun Shirsat

Wages in Sinnar Pargana during the 18th Century Anjali Soitkar Vekhande

Wage Labour and Other Forms of Remuneration in the Deccan in the 1820s Jan Lucassen

Construction Workers, Remuneration and Welfare Levels: An Indian Region during the 1860s Dhiraj Kumar Nite Wage

Payments and Labour Productivity: The 1896–1897 Famine in North-Western Provinces and Oudh Amal Shahid



Jan Lucassen is Emeritus Professor at the Free University of Amsterdam and an honorary fellow at the International Institute of Social History, where he founded the IISH Research Department as well as the biannual European Social Science History. He recently published The Story of Work: A New History of Humankind (2021). He is an expert in labour and migration history. His publications include the following books: Workers in the Informal Sector (2005, together with Sabyasachi Bhattacharya), Global Labour History: A State of the Art (2006), Globalising Migration History: The Eurasian Experience (2014, together with Leo Lucassen). Among his articles are studies about brick making in India, workers of the Ichapur Gunpowder Factory and the circulation of copper money in India.

Radhika Seshan, Professor and Head (Retd.), Department of History, Savitribai Phule Pune University (formerly the University of Pune), is now Visiting Faculty, Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts, Pune, India. Her area of specialization is medieval Indian history, within which she has concentrated on economic history, especially maritime and urban history. She is the author of three books, Trade and Politics on the Coromandel Coast (2012), Ideas and Institutions in Medieval India, 8th to 18th centuries (2013) and The Constructions of the East in Western Travel Narratives, 1300–1800 (2020). In addition, she is the editor/co-editor of eight books, of which the most recent, co-edited with Professor Rila Mukherjee, is Indian Ocean Histories: The Many Worlds of Michael Naylor Pearson (2019–2020).

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