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Khadi: Gandhi's Mega Symbol of Subversion

Khadi: Gandhi's Mega Symbol of Subversion

First Edition

July 2012 | 323 pages | SAGE India
Khadi: Gandhi`s Mega Symbol of Subversion investigates the power of a symbol to qualitatively transform society by studying Mahatma Gandhi’s use of clothing as a metaphor for unity, empowerment and liberation from imperial subjugation.

The book brings together historical evidence of Gandhi’s search for a semiotics of attire in his quest for personal integrity and socio-political change. From a multidisciplinary perspective, it closely examines the subversion underlying his sartorial communication.

The author also discusses the complex challenges in Gandhi’s highly polarized environment, such as the conflict between the British Empire and the Indian National Congress, Hindu–Muslim tensions, the urban–rural divide, and the question of untouchability.

The author examines the symbolic potential for change which khadi has, not merely as ‘revolution’ or ‘sedition’, but as a sustained, well-organised strategy for achieving full independence or purna swaraj.

John S Moolakkattu

The Passion to Be an 'English Gentleman' (1869-1891)

In Search of Sartorial Significance (1892-1913)

'Unclothing' of the Mahatma (1914-1948)

The Rape of India

Gandhi's Eco-political Subversion


Inferiorisation of the People

Gandhi's Psycho-cultural Subversion


India's Shame

Gandhi's Socio-religious Subversion-Untouchability


India's Schism

Gandhi's Socio-religious Subversion-Militancy


Foundational Principles of Gandhian Subversion

The Metaphysics of Khadi



Glossary of Sanskrit and Indian Vocabulary

Timeline of Gandhi and the Swadeshi Movement



The significance of khadi has already been explored by a number of scholars from different angles. Peter Gonsalves has made his foray into this area, writing largely from a communication perspective, first in his book Clothing for Liberation (SAGE, 2010), and now in this sequel, which lays out the historical foundation for the theoretical claims on Gandhian sartorial communication published in his previous work. It covers new ground by highlighting the 'subversive' nature of Gandhi's sartorial choices through a range of disciplines, and has brought Gandhian communication through attire to centre stage.

I am sure the academic community and communication specialists would welcome its effort to highlight brilliantly the communicative power of an ordinary cloth to mould a national movement that dethroned colonialism while subverting the values it upheld.

John S Moolakkattu
Editor, Gandhi Marg, Quarterly Journal of the Gandhi Peace Foundation, New Delhi, and Professor, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Madras, Chennai

Investigates the power of symbol to qualitatively transform society. Threading together historical evidence by discussing the complex challenges in Gandhi’s highly polarised environment...the present work is noteworthy for the originality of its approach, the richness of documentation it supplies, and the clarity with which the relevance and depth of Gandhi’s thoughts and actions are demonstrated.

The Sunday Standard

Yet another addition to the remarkably diverse Gandhian scholarship.

Ammara Khan

A powerful critique of the whole political economy of India. This book is a rare achievement.

Arvind Sivaramakrishnan
The Hindu

A beautifully produced book. Gonsalves’ communication angle leads to a creative reading of what is no doubt one of the most powerful communication events in world history […] the communication dimension penetrates the book in more ways than one: the careful collection of photos, the figures and tables that intersperse the chapters, and the crispness and raciness of the narrative. 

Ivo Coelho
Editor, Divyadaan - Journal of Education and Philosophy

Gonsalves’ study is exceptional – and brilliant, and, may one add, deeply emotive.

M. V. Kamath
Free Press Journal

Noteworthy for the originality of its approach, the richness of the documentation it supplies, and the clarity with which the relevance and depth of Gandhi’s thoughts and actions are demonstrated.

Yogesh Vajpeyi
The New Indian Express

Peter Gonsalves

Peter Gonsalves, PhD, currently teaches the Sciences of Social Communication at Salesian Pontifical University, Rome.He began his career in media as a community worker for rural development at the Bosco Gramin Vikas Kendra, Ahmednagar. He founded Tej-prasarini, Mumbai, a multimedia production centre to raise awareness of the urgency of life-based education in South Asia. He promoted a series of teacher-training manuals called ‘Quality Life Education’, the first of which was his own work: Exercises in Media Education (1994). Using this, he conducted no less than 40 all-India courses on media education for schoolteachers, social workers and... More About Author

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