Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

‘Deindustrialization’ Revisited: The Handloom Weavers of the Central Provinces of India, c. 1800–1947

  • Peter Harnetty (a1)

When Marx in 1853 denounced the exploitation of India under British rule and wrote of ‘The British intruder who broke up the Indian handloom’ he laid the foundation for an economic critique which has endured to the present day. In the twentieth century, the fate of the Indian handloom weaver has been at the center of the controversy over the concept of the ‘deindustrialization’ of India on which there is now a substantial body of literature. Did the handloom industry collapse in face of competition from manufactured British imports as proponents of this thesis contend? Or were the handloom weavers able to survive the competition and at least retain (and, as has recently been argued, perhaps even improve) their position, as demand for cloth rose with rising per capita income, the fall in cloth prices was offset by the cheaper price of machine-spun yarn, and the handloom weavers diversified into higher-valued products and adopted new technologies? This paper is intended as a further contribution to this debate. It examines what happened to the handloom industry in one part of India (the region that from 1861 was called the Central Provinces) over a period of roughly one hundred and fifty years. It is in four parts. The first part studies the changes that occurred in the nineteenth century as British power spread throughout the subcontinent. This is the period when deindustrialization is said to have occurred to a significant extent.

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Colin Simmons , ‘Deindustrialization, Industrialization and the Indian Economy, c. 1850–1947,’ Modern Asian Studies 19 (1985), pp. 593622

Tirthankar Roy , ‘Size and Structure of Handloom Weaving in the Mid-ThirtiesThe Indian Economic and Social History Review 25 (1988), pp. 124.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Modern Asian Studies
  • ISSN: 0026-749X
  • EISSN: 1469-8099
  • URL: /core/journals/modern-asian-studies
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 8 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 239 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 28th May 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.