Transcolonial Journeys: The Ayahs and Amahs Project’s online exhibition

One of the key aims of the Ayahs and Amahs project is to reconstruct, describe and analyse the historical experiences of ayahs and amahs and to investigate the way that visual and literary representations of these women travelled with them along circuits of the British empire. Our new online exhibition, Ayahs and Amahs: Transcolonial Journeys,Continue reading “Transcolonial Journeys: The Ayahs and Amahs Project’s online exhibition”

The Ayahs’ and Amahs’ Home: A History

Part II: The Home at Hackney It is the Hansons then (“aka” the Rogers), who appear in front of the door to the imposing new premises, along with the four sari-clad women, in 1900 (figure 2.1).  Christian Hanson and wife Amina were listed as “Manager” and “Matron” respectively of the Ayahs Home on King Edward’sContinue reading “The Ayahs’ and Amahs’ Home: A History”

The Ayahs’ and Amahs’ Home: A History 

This year a new English Heritage Blue Plaque will be unveiled at 26 King Edward Road, Hackney, in London, to commemorate the Ayahs’ Home that operated there in the opening decades of the twentieth century. This public recognition of a major part of Britain’s imperial history has been some time coming. Rozina Visram, historian ofContinue reading “The Ayahs’ and Amahs’ Home: A History “

She Travelled: The Portrait of Joanna de Silva, the Indian Ayah at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

My encounter with Joanna de Silva, a nursemaid from eighteenth-century Bengal, India, was rather serendipitous! I came to know of the portrait of Joanna through a research network of scholars and enthusiasts committed to unravel the history of Indian ayahs and Chinese amahs, the native nursemaids in the service of European employers in colonial India.[1]Continue reading “She Travelled: The Portrait of Joanna de Silva, the Indian Ayah at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York”

Travelling Pictures and Blurry Visions: Photographs of Chinese Amahs

Our project seeks to trace not only how ayahs and amahs travelled across the world but also how images of these women circulated. Pictures of ayahs and amahs travelled as illustrations in books, photographs enclosed in letters, ethnographic postcards exchanged as curiosities, and as paintings purchased for display in homes and galleries. Today these imagesContinue reading “Travelling Pictures and Blurry Visions: Photographs of Chinese Amahs”

Thomassee: The first Australian ayah

Many of the stories of the travelling ayahs and amahs that we are learning about today concern those women who travelled between Asia and England during the period of the British Empire. As part of this project, however, we are looking for stories of women who travelled south from India and China, to Australia. TheseContinue reading “Thomassee: The first Australian ayah”

A Japanese Amah

The following blog tells the story of a uniquely transnational amah called Tuk-San. [1] Tuk-San was a Japanese woman who travelled with the Hillier family between China and England at the turn of the twentieth century. Her story is contributed by historian and author Dr Andrew Hillier. ‘I came to Europe from Peking for theContinue reading “A Japanese Amah”

Chinese amahs in Britain and Australia

A range of historians and public history practitioners have brought to light the stories of travelling Indian ayahs in Britain. [1] Much less is known about the Chinese amahs that travelled with employer families to Britain. The stories of the Chinese amahs and Indian ayahs who travelled to Australia (even after the passing of theContinue reading “Chinese amahs in Britain and Australia”

Locating Ayahs in Transit: A Passage to Australia and other Parts of the World

As a social historian whose work focuses on domestic laborers in colonial India, I intend to unravel the story of Indian female domestic workers who travelled to Australia, directly or via England, and to other British colonies in the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries. Today in India’s imagination, Australia chiefly looms large as a majorContinue reading “Locating Ayahs in Transit: A Passage to Australia and other Parts of the World”