Crafting the Nation in Colonial India
“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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