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Clothing for Liberation

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This is the first analysis of Gandhi's dressing style in terms of communication theory and an exploration of the subliminal messages that were subtly communicated to a large audience. Peter Gonsalves chooses three famous theorists from the field of communication studies and looks at Gandhi through the lens of each one, to give us a fascinating and new insight into one of the most famous men from South Asia. …. The book closes with, perhaps for the first time, a Gandhian approach to symbolisation for socio-political change. - (Peer reviewers at SAGE publications

Gonsalves makes you see Gandhi in an academic light that permits you to both name some of the characteristics of Gandhi and see them in the larger perspectives of communication and revolution for liberation. This exercise, that at first might appear an indulgence in scholarly rationalizations, in fact gives a solid foundation to the conviction experienced at the end of Chapter 1 as to the greatness of Mahatma Gandhi. At the end of the book, that conviction is no longer superficial....After reading this book, I, for one, can only say: Looking afresh at Gandhiji, I know in the depth of my being what he means: "another world is possible." - Gaston Roberge, Educationist and Media Critic,  Full text >>>

Mahatama Gandhi used Khadi less as garment and more as a message to both Indians and the British. This is the sum of Peter Gonsalves’ Clothing for Liberation. The author shows how Gandhi became, perhaps, the best communicator of his age. The sheer simplicity of clothing (or fabric) as a medium of this communication, he shows, was an act of genius. - D. Murali, Business Line,  Full text >>>

The book is an immensely insightful resource for students of communication, politics, history and semiotics. - Gerson Da Cunha, Deccan Chronicle,  Full text >>>

The book is useful since Gandhi as a symbol maker has a lot to teach contemporary symbol makers like parents, educators, social workers, activists and politicians how to go about working for a better world, making effective use of non-verbal symbols. The book has a bibliography and index which should be of help to future researchers wanting to work on Gandhi and/or communication technology. - Freedom First,  Full text >>>

The book investigates the communicative power of Gandhi’s style of dressing and use of home-spun cloth for staging a revolution involving over 300 million people…The book deals with the qualitative and quantitative aspects of Gandhi’s verbal output, his linguistic capacity, his journalistic and letter-writing style, his peace communication in an atmosphere of conflict, his organizational ability and the international repercussions of his mass mediated messages. It also elaborates the different types of non-verbal communication he used, such as silence, fasting, clothing, personal presence and charisma. - Press Trust of India,   Full text >>>

The book is neither a political/historical documentation nor a biographical sketch. It presents Gandhi as a communicator and, more importantly, as an embodiment of the symbols that shaped the course of history. By highlighting Gandhi’s non-verbal communication through a radical choice of clothing, the author endows history with a new political, economic, psychological, social and cultural significance. This book is written with the conviction that Gandhian ideology is and will remain a crucial element of Indian consciousness as a nation…. The tone of his book is patient and friendly, playfully moderating an academic authority which Gonsalves certainly possesses. - Ammara Khan, The Dawn,  Full text >>

For scholars of semiotics, social movements, nonviolence and Gandhi, this is a welcome addition to the ever-growing oeuvre of Gandhicentric analysis. Gonsalves contributes a firm piece of scholarship to the study of Gandhi’s life and how he became the message. - Tom Hastings, Portland State University,    Full text >>>

In the end, this book will be of great interest to three groups of people. Most obviously, those interested in observing classic communication theory applied to a specific historical conflict will find this work a useful employment of Barthes, Turner, and Goffman. Those interested in understanding more about Gandhi as an agent of social change will have to drag through some theory that may seem superfluous but will find the insightful conclusions interesting. But my highest reading recommendation for this book goes to those interested in the power of clothing, not just as a sign system, but as an aspect of our material reality that is always already embroiled in political, economic, and even spiritual struggles. In our current, unsustainable global economy whose apparel industries are implicated in inhumane labor practices, clothing is still at the center of struggles for peace and justice. Gonsalves’s book is well dedicated “to communicators and educators of peace.” - Bridget R. Cowlishaw, Southwest Journal of Cultures  Full text >>>

Clothing was an important symbol that Gandhi deployed to communicate and unite people divided by religion, caste, language and ethnicity. Clothing for Liberation seeks to unravel Gandhi and the symbolism in his clothing to understand the non-violent movement that humbled a mighty empire. - Ashish Vashi, The Times of India,   Full text >>>