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Women and the press in British India, 1928‐1934: a window for protest?

Jane Chapman (Lincoln University, Lincoln, UK)
Kate Allison (Lincoln University, Lincoln, UK)

International Journal of Social Economics

ISSN: 0306-8293

Article publication date: 5 July 2011




The aim of this paper is to understand how, in tough economic times, British‐owned, English language newspapers such as The Pioneer received and filtered news, especially gender‐related and nationalist‐related events and thinking.


Using qualitative and quantitative methods to assess communications by and about pro‐nationalist women, coverage of female activities was categorised into two groups: first, educational, social and peaceful campaigns and second, direct action such as strikes, burning of British cloth and business/land rent boycotts.


Direct action provided “bad news” coverage, but it simultaneously gave a small window for publicity. Less threatening peaceful campaigns provided a bigger window – enhanced by the novelty value of female activism.

Research limitations/implications

Historians need to look specifically at Indian newspapers during the struggle for independence for a counter‐hegemonic discourse that reached a wide public. When evidence of women's activism is paired with financial news, it becomes clear that women had a negative impact on British business. Furthermore, The Pioneer's own business dilemmas made the paper part of the economic and ideological maelstrom that it reported on.


This is the first time that the colonial press in India itself has been scrutinised in detail on the subject of the rising nationalist movement and women. Findings underline female influence on both economics and ideology – a neglected aspect of Indian gender scholarship and economic history.



Chapman, J. and Allison, K. (2011), "Women and the press in British India, 1928‐1934: a window for protest?", International Journal of Social Economics, Vol. 38 No. 8, pp. 676-692.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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