Asking for and giving baki: Neo-bondage, or the interplay of bondage and resistance in the Tamilnadu power-loom industry

De Neve, Geert (1999) Asking for and giving baki: Neo-bondage, or the interplay of bondage and resistance in the Tamilnadu power-loom industry. Contributions to Indian Sociology, 33 (1-2). 379 - 406. ISSN 0069-9667

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Abstract

This paper on labour relations in the power-loom industry of the south Indian town Kumarapalayam (Salem district, Tamilnadu) explores the dynamics of this practice of 'ask ing for and giving baki', employers' advances to their labourers, which has now become a widespread custom within this capitalist, industrial and urban setting. The introduction of this practice is related to the manufacturer-employers' search for a stable, skilled and disciplined workforce, the entry of a non-traditional weaving caste (Vellalar Gounder) into this industry, and the exclusion of particular groups on the basis of caste, gender and skill. The effects of giving advances on labour relations and labour turnover, however, reveal the problematic nature of this practice. Although employers have undoubtedly attempted to reintroduce through debt a form of labour attachment within this small-scale power-loom industry, the effectiveness of this strategy is highly paradoxical as labourers continuously escape bonds by moving to other employers, factories and even towns. It is suggested that a study of the dynamics and dialectics of imposing bonds and escaping ties may further our understanding of how labour bondage and its contestation take shape in an urban, industrial context.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Anthropology
Depositing User: Geert DeNeve
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 15:04
Last Modified: 21 May 2012 13:21
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/10009
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