Books: Weaving Hierarchies by Santosh Kumar Rai

Weaving Hierarchies: Handloom Weavers in Early Twentieth Century United Provinces combines primarily historical data with extensive field research to give us new insights into the structures of artisan trades and the lives of weaving communities specifically located in the weaving hubs of Azamgarh, Gorakhpur and Faizabad divisions of eastern Uttar Pradesh during the first half of the twentieth century. Thus, it fills an important gap in the existing labour historiography, which has tended to focus more on ‘modern’ sites of labour such as factories, mines and plantations. The book explores the modernity/tradition dichotomy as it has been applied and amplified in our understanding of development, demonstrating that some of the categorizations fundamental to these understandings are in fact profoundly misplaced. Indeed, the argument regarding processes of ‘localization’ made here is particularly promising in the sense that it does not posit localization in opposition to but in tandem with global processes. The book explores historically grounded, tension-filled categories like class, caste and community, and perhaps its most significant contribution lies in tracing the history of the Julaha community.

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Copyright @ Department of History, University of Delhi . 2021