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Hand-crafted identities: Sartorial taste and belonging amongst elite women in urban India
Published in SAGE Publications Ltd
Volume: 25
Issue: 1
Pages: 60 - 75
Craft in contemporary India is a loaded signifier of the handmade, the vernacular, the traditional, and the authentic. Handloom saris, as part of a pan-Indianized repertoire, index the virtues of traditional femininity, local patronage and craft-based aesthetics. However, a decline in their consumption has led to revival projects centred on addressing concerns of livelihoods, markets, and consumer identities. This article presents a historically contextualized study of elite women who are engaged in handloom sari revival. Through an analysis of their sartorial preferences and interventions in handloom revival, the author suggests that their involvement in the field of craft is a performative strategy that consolidates their elite status. These actors affirm belonging in elite spaces using the discourses of crafts difference, biomoral consumption, and aesthetic taste. Moreover, revival is always presented as on the verge of happening but never actually achieved, justifying the need for sustained elite intervention, in turn cementing elite status. © The Author(s) 2019.
About the journal
JournalData powered by TypesetJournal of Material Culture
PublisherData powered by TypesetSAGE Publications Ltd