Recycling Indian Clothing

Recycling Indian Clothing

Global Contexts of Reuse and Value
Lucy Norris
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 07/16/2010
Format: Paperback 16 color illus., 7 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-22208-4
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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.

Author Bio

Lucy Norris is 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.


“Through the stories of the people in the largely hidden world of fabric recycling, this anthropological study of recycling clothes in Delhi follows the lives of garments as they are gifted, worn, handed on, discarded, and sold once more, making and breaking relationships within middle-class households.”

“The information is highly researched, referenced, and footnoted, but presented as a series of stories that make the topic more engaging. November/December 2010”
 — AATCC Review

“Norris succeeds in opening up for scholarly discussion an important new area of textile and South Asian studies, and produces a text that will be enjoyed across disciplines by students and scholars interested in global practices of recycling and the circulation of material culture.”
 — Cultural Analysis

“Throughout the book, the writing remains clear and accessible, full of textured descriptions which seem to recreate the streets of Delhi. It is sure to inform specialists in the anthropology of consumption and globalisation, but remains accessible to all readers interested in a profound understanding of the recycled clothing trade in India.”
 — South Asia Research

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Table of Contents

1. Recycling Indian Clothing: The Global Context
2. Fieldwork Contexts
3. Looking through the Wardrobe
4. Love and Protection: Strategies of Conservation
5. Sacrifice and Exchange
6. Adding Value: Recycling and Transformation
7. Value and Potential

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