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Consuming Kashmir: Shawls and Empires, 1500-2000

From: Journal of World History
Volume 13, Number 1, Spring 2002
pp. 27-65 | 10.1353/jwh.2002.0019


Kashmiri shawls serve as a material vector to trace how European assumptions of geographical determinism, racial hierarchy, and gender essentialism underpinned the seemingly disparate nineteenth-century narratives about design history and various theories about an "Asiatic mode of production" in labor history. The continuing strength of these assumptions is demonstrated by the contemporary marketing in 2001 of pashmina ("woven goat hair" or cashmere) shawls, using the recycled tropes of exoticism and fantasy ethnography crafted during the heyday of British colonialism.