ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Mobilising Discourses

Handloom as Sustainable Socio-Technology

Handloom is much more sustainable than common views and standard government policies recognise. Instead of a linear migration out of weaving into other forms of livelihood, weaving communities show a more strategic mobility - flexibly departing from and again returning to weaving, depending on circumstances. This mobility can be traced in weavers' discourses about their vulnerabilities and aspirations. This paper shows that the standard image of weaving as premodern, unproductive and unsustainable is produced by being trapped in a progress discourse, a poverty discourse, and a market discourse. An alternative view of handloom weaving as a socio-technology is proposed: understanding handloom as an ensemble of knowledge, skills, technology and social relations explains the continued sustainability of handloom, and also offers clues for socio-technical innovation and an alleviation of vulnerabilities.

The authors want to thank Latha Tummuru, Durgalakshmi Venkataswamy, Pankaj Sekhsaria, Ranjit Singh, Else Bijker for helpful comments on earlier drafts. They would also like to thank a reviewer of this journal for comments.

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