Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to reveal the contribution of counter-hegemonic communications towards the origins of anti-colonialism in French India during the years 1935-1937 and thereby to illuminate the relationship between press, economics and ideology in a colonial context. Design/methodology/approach: The paper presents a qualitative study of local archives in Tamil and French, including indigenous print communications such as the workers' paper Swandanthiram. These are used as a prism for analysis of the development of a workers' public voice during major textile strikes, and assessed in the light of John Downing's definitions of advocacy journalism. Findings: Communications were directly connected to disempowerment and lack of civil, political and economic rights. The formation of legal worker organisations for the first time and a new political party provided the context in which activist leaders adopted a twofold vertical and lateral strategy in their publications, to promote their formative anti-colonial ideas. Research limitations/implications: This research illuminates the relationship between press, economics and ideology in a colonial context, demonstrating the importance of economic factors in rise of nationalist movements and the way press usage is connected to basic civil, political and economic rights. Originality/value: The paper traces a forgotten episode in the history of a neglected corner of French empire, significant for the emergence of the indigenous population - including peasant women - for the first time from the private to the public sphere as an organised force - a factor that has previously been ignored by historians.
- Print media