Essential Information

Type Talks and courses
Date and Times 21 June 2022 | 5.15pm - 6.45pm
Prices Free

Ayahs and amahs were Indian and Chinese nannies employed by wealthy European families during the 1800s and 1900s.

Often leaving their own children behind, these women faced precarious employment and neglect but were also able to take advantage of the many unique opportunities their jobs presented. They may even be regarded as some of the first Asian women to become frequent business travellers. Voyaging between many parts of Britain’s empire and working in the home, they also gained insight into the more intimate aspects of colonial life.

Join us for a free online seminar discussing these often overlooked domestic workers, migrants and globetrotters.

Was there a ‘typical’ ayah and amah experience? What challenges did these women face in their working lives? How did they feel about the children in their care? What were the differences between nannying in India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai? Why is it important to study the history of these women and can historians ever hope to capture their voices from the archives?

Our panel of experts from three continents will explore many aspects of their lives, including the voyages they undertook, their relationships with their employers, the postcards and dolls made to represent them, and the places associated with them (including the Ayahs’ Home in Hackney). Each panellist will give a short presentation on a different topic before taking questions from attendees. This seminar may be of special interest to descendants of ayahs and amahs, and to those who were brought up by these ‘almost mothers’.

Our panel will include:

Niti Acharya (Hackney Museum, UK)

Satyasikha Chakraborty (The College of New Jersey, USA)

Claire Lowrie (University of Wollongong, Australia)  

Aisha Shukat-Khawaja (University of York, UK)

Jo Stanley (University Of Hull, UK)

This event is free and open to everyone, and will take place via Zoom. There is no need to book; please click on the button below shortly before 5.15pm on the day.

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