New Login   

Changing Patterns

Kanakalatha Mukund

Edited by Douglas E. Haynes , Abigail McGowan, Tirthankar Roy and Haruka Yanagisawa
Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2010, pp. x+297, Rs. 750.00


This book ventures into previously nexplored areas of South Asian history, indicating the exciting possibilities of research in social and economic history. Consumption in South Asia begins with the observation that The history of consumption is not an identifiable sub-field among South Asianists, nor are there any individual historians who are known primarily for their contributions to this topic (p. 1). Haynes and McGowan point out in the Introduction that historians of urban industry have concentrated only on aspects related to productioninvestment, entrepreneurship, issues relating to work, labour and organizationand have paid little attention to how these were influenced by changes in consumption. The contributors to this volume had come to recognize the importance of understanding changing patterns of consumption during their own research, especially research relating to craft production. This understanding also helps for a better appreciation of changing identities, new forms of public activity like shopping, the theatre and cinema, and shifts in gender relations (p. 4). The book begins with an article by H.V. Bowen on the consumption of British manufactured goods in India in the late eighteenth/early nineteenth century. There was a widely held perception in England that the Indian market for British goods was extremely restricted. This was so not only because of the socio-cultural character of Indian society, but was also the result of the ineffectiveness of the trade monopoly of the English East India Company. Bowen argues that contrary to this popular view the market for British goods was growing in India for those which were brought in both by the Company and on private account (legitimately or otherwise). This was partly because of the growing number of Europeans in the colonial port towns, but also because Indians who were exposed to Europeans in these towns were beginning to show a preference for some products brought in from England. Except for this one venture into early colonial India, the other papers deal primarily with the early decades of the twentieth century. Haruka Yanagisawa starts with an analysis of South India between 1910 and 1950. Based on scattered data on consumption and arguing inferentially he links the growth of small-scale industries in the regionespecially rice mills producing machine polished rice, groundnut mills producing oil, beedi manufacturing units, cotton ginning factories and hosiery millsto changing consumption patterns, especially among the non-elite classes of the local population, who were the main consumers of the increased output of these ...

Table of Contents >>
Please or to Read Entire Article

Free Access Online 12 Back Issues
with 1 year's subscription
Archive (1976-2011)
under construction.