Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Published in The Social Fabric: Deep Local to Pan Global; Proceedings of the Textile Society of America 16th Biennial Symposium. Presented at Vancouver, BC, Canada; September 19 – 23, 2018. https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/tsaconf/

doi 10.32873/unl.dc.tsasp.0065


Copyright © 2018 by the author or authors.


India to Appalachia: How Cottage Industries Preserve Textile Heritage examines the role of the hand weaver and the cottage industry from India to the American Craft Revival in promoting cultural identity through textiles. The migratory nature of textile production both in the pre-and post-industrial practices has long challenged the notion of a pure textile heritage for any culture. However, with the almost simultaneous appearance of Khadi production in India and the American Craft Revival of Appalachia, the allure of the homespun as a cultural asset became a mechanism to offset the impact of textile industrialization. As urban centers increased in population, rural regions often suffered the consequences including employment opportunities, lack of infrastructural support, and access to goods and services. As social movements developed to provide support for these communities, cottage-based industries became a model for promoting cultural identities of region. Specifically within Appalachia, these identities included textile coverlet patterns that originated in Northern Europe but migrated to the region through displaced handweavers of the European Industrial Revolution. Cultural symbolism of cloth was not the only migratory element in these social movements. In India, Americans such as David Carroll Churchill, funded by the British, were introducing Khadi weavers to the fly shuttle. Ironically, this is the same tool that launched the Industrial Revolution and led to the displacement of handweavers as colonial industrialization took hold of India. In a world grasping for the authentic, how did/do these social movements of hand cloth production capitalize on perceived identities of migratory patterns, materials, and technology? How are we implicit in these practices today? India to Appalachia: How Cottage Industries Preserve Textile Heritage will embark upon some of these challenging questions as it pertains to the hand, or individual, production of cloth as a cultural object.