Crafting the Nation in Colonial India

Hardcover | June 15, 2009

byAbigail McGowan

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“Well before Gandhi popularized hand-spun, hand-woven cloth, British and Indian activists had made crafts central to plans for India’s economic and cultural revival.  Combining tradition and employment at a time of industrial transition, crafts appealed to both government officials and nationalist activists alike—even as they bemoaned artisans as conservative and backwards.  That connection between development and cultural judgment was not incidental.  Drawing on a wide range of craft development initiatives in western India between 1851 and 1922—from art and industrial schools to model factories, pattern books, exhibitions, technical experiments, and cooperatives—McGowan argues that crafts came to political prominence through British and Indian negotiations over power: power over the lower classes, over the economy, and over the future of the country.

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“Well before Gandhi popularized hand-spun, hand-woven cloth, British and Indian activists had made crafts central to plans for India’s economic and cultural revival.  Combining tradition and employment at a time of industrial transition, crafts appealed to both government officials and nationalist activists alike—even as they bemoaned ...

Abigail McGowan is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Vermont.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:288 pages, 8.34 × 5.76 × 0.78 inPublished:June 15, 2009Publisher:Palgrave MacmillanLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230612679

ISBN - 13:9780230612679

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Table of Contents

Introduction * Demanding Knowledge, Documenting the Body * The Culture of Difference: From Colonial Knowledge to the Problem with Crafts * Developing Traditions: Preservationist Design and the Independent Artisan * The Cult of the Craftsman in the Spirit of Modernization: Rationalization, Efficiency and the Crafts Sector * Conclusion: The Long Life of Difference: Gandhi and the Politics of Crafts after 1920

Editorial Reviews

“In this imaginative and empirically rich study, Abigail McGowan demonstrates convincingly that the Indian ‘crafts’ became a critical ground on which both colonial and nationalist projects of power were constructed during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This book is a pioneering effort in establishing the relationship between colonial knowledge, state interventions into the economy, and visual/material cultures.”--Douglas Haynes, Associate Professor of History, Dartmouth University