Recycling Indian Clothing

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2010-07-16
  • Publisher: Indiana Univ Pr

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In today's globally connected marketplace, a wedding sari in rural north India may become a woman's blouse or cushion cover in a Western boutique. Lucy Norris's anthropological study of the recycling of clothes in Delhi follows garments as they are gifted, worn, handed on, discarded, recycled, and sold once more. Gifts of clothing are used to make and break relationships within middle-class households, but a growing surplus of unwanted clothing now contributes to a global glut of textile waste. When old clothing is, for instance, bartered for new kitchen utensils, it enters a vast waste commodity system in which it may be resold to the poor or remade into new textiles and exported. Norris traces these local and transnational flows through homes and markets as she tells the stories of the people who work in the largely hidden world of fabric recycling.

Author Biography

Lucy Norris is a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at University College London. She is author (with Michael Hitchcock) of Bali, The Imaginary Museum: The Photographs of Walter Spies and Beryl de Zoete.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Recycling Indian Clothing: The Global Contextp. 3
Fieldwork Contextsp. 21
Looking through the Wardrobep. 55
Love and Protection: Strategies of Conservationp. 85
Sacrifice and Exchangep. 121
Adding Value: Recycling and Transformationp. 141
Value and Potentialp. 177
Notesp. 185
Bibliographyp. 197
Indexp. 207
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.


Cloth and clothing is never just thrown out as rubbish in India. Until it is literally falling apart, it is too useful to be wasted. Treasured pieces can be preserved for favorite younger relatives, and suitable, serviceable clothes gifted to a maid. But what happens to the increasing surplus of clothing that is 'too good for the maid'? The most problematic category of all is that of old silk saris, once the most valuable clothing in the home and potentially the most redundant.... Hidden out of sight in warehouses, factories, workshops and the backstreets of slum neighbourhoods, vast quantities of old, unwanted clothing that have been bartered for pots are recycled for the local and global markets.

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