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SAP Seminar Series, Brand-Name Capitalism, Advertising and the Making of Middle-Class Conjugality in Western India, 1918-1950, by Doug Haynes

Monday, November 5, 2018 at 12:15pm to 1:30pm

Uris Hall, G08

This lecture is an overview of my current book project on the rise of professional advertising in western India during the interwar period and its aftermath. It will discuss the development of the global field of advertising, focusing on the ways advertising specialists sought to induce members of emerging middle class to abandon locally produced goods and pre-existing bodily practices, and to take up the consumption of standardized, brand-name products. The lecture explores both the verbal and visual character of print advertisements, locating itself in the new visual history of South Asia.  It analyzes the ways advertisers attempted to evoke “prior meanings” carrying special emotive power for middle-classes consumers, particularly those associated with modern, middle-class conjugality.  After introducing some of the key arguments of my study, I will turn to an analysis of advertisements of two particularly key types of commodities regularly featured in newspaper ads of the period: sex tonics and toilet soap. Sex tonics regularly featured appeals to concerns with masculine weakness, including those that stress the difficulties of retaining middle-class employment, while soap ads increased, emphasizing the importance of new conceptions of domesticity for women and family health.  The lecture will include extensive analysis of individual ads over time.  Among the advertised products that will be discussed are Horlicks, Lifebuoy and Sunlight soaps.

Professor Haynes specializes in the history of South Asia, and teaches courses on modern South Asia, Gandhi, Dalits and Untouchables in India, as well as comparative classes on colonialism. Focusing on the history of late nineteenth and early twentieth-century western India, he has covered in his research cities and urban politics, artisans and merchants, capitalism, consumption and advertising, masculinity, conjugality and sexuality.

One of his books, Small-Town Capitalism in Western India: Artisans, Merchants and the Making of the Informal Economy, 1870-1960 (Cambridge University Press) won the John F. Richards Prize of the American Historical Association for the most distinguished book in English on South Asian history for 2012. He previously completed Rhetoric and Ritual in Colonial India, a study on the cultural accommodations of elites in Surat, a small Indian city, to British domination. The author of many essays, he has co-edited Contesting Power (1991, with Gyan Prakash) on "everyday resistance" in South Asian society and history, Towards a History of Consumption in South Asia (2010, with Abigail McGowan, Tirthankar Roy and Haruka Yanagisawa), a special issue on the urban history of the Indian subcontinent published in the journal South Asia (2013, with Nikhil Rao). This past year, he published a co-edited volume (with Veronika Fuechtner and Ryan Jones), The Global History of Sexual Science, 1880-1950. His current work, on the history of advertising in western India and its role in shaping conjugality from 1918 to 1950, was awarded a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. He has also initiated work on the Indian Institutes of Management and the origins of India’s managerial class, 1960-1980.  

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Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Asian Studies, South Asia Program, History




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Valerie Foster Githinji

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Doug Haynes

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