The political economy of branding: khadi, colonialism and Indian nationhood

Nirali Shah (Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar, India)

Journal of Historical Research in Marketing

ISSN: 1755-750X

Publication date: 20 August 2018



This paper aims to provide an understanding of how brands acquire meanings in a historical context. It examines the politico-economic environment that led to emergence of khadi in India.


The paper uses historical data to examine political economy of khadi. The author uses both written text and visuals for data collection and analysis.


It elucidates how the significance of khadi changed from being a mere cloth to a product of self-sufficiency and national importance in India’s freedom movement. This work is based on the analysis of Gandhian activities, especially consumption of khadi and usage of spinning wheel, during Indian freedom movement. The work analyzes the evolution of khadi in its historical, social and political context in colonial India. This paper reveals how and why brands acquire certain historical meanings.

Research limitations/implications

The paper is developed in colonial India.


This paper examines the role of institutions, social and political movements in the creation, development and nurturing of a brand and its meanings.



Shah, N. (2018), "The political economy of branding: khadi, colonialism and Indian nationhood", Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, Vol. 10 No. 3, pp. 197-223.

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