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Clothing Matters: Dress and Identity in India

Clothing Matters: Dress and Identity in India
Author: Emma Tarlo
ISBN 13: 9780226789767
ISBN 10: 226789764
Edition: 1
Publisher: University Of Chicago Press
Publication Date: 1996-09-01
Format: Paperback
Pages: 382
List Price: $35.00

What do I wear today? The way we answer this question says much about how we manage and express our identities. This detailed study examines sartorial style in India from the late nineteenth century to the present, showing how trends in clothing are related to caste, level of education, urbanization, and a larger cultural debate about the nature of Indian identity.

Clothes have been used to assert power, challenge authority, and instigate social change throughout Indian society. During the struggle for independence, members of the Indian elite incorporated elements of Western style into their clothes, while Gandhi's adoption of the loincloth symbolized the rejection of European power and the contrast between Indian poverty and British wealth. Similar tensions are played out today, with urban Indians adopting "ethnic" dress as villagers seek modern fashions.

Illustrated with photographs, satirical drawings, and magazine advertisements, this book shows how individuals and groups play with history and culture as they decide what to wear.


Explores how Indians have chosen their clothes to express various social and political positions from the late 19th century to the 1990s. Among the topics are the influence of Gandhi's concepts of nationalism and simplicity, the blurring and deliberate violation of traditional caste markers, village dress, peasants, pastoralists, and modern fashions. Includes a glossary with pronunciation guides. Abundantly illustrated with black-and- white photographs and cartoons. Based on a 1991 Ph.D dissertation for the University of London. Paper edition (unseen), $23.95. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)