The Origins of a public voice for marginalised workers in French India, 1935-37

Jane Chapman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines how far indigenous communications contributed towards the origins of anti-colonialism in French India, as an empowering voice. They are seen as an example of a politicising move from private to public sphere via print communications. The years 1935-7 reveal a saga of severe economic exploitation, violence and political struggle - a trajectory of social conflict in the public sphere. Local archives, including print publications such as the workers’ Tamil paper Swandanthiram are used as a prism for the analysis of a forgotten episode in the history of a neglected corner of French empire. This article traces the development of the workers’ public voice and characterises this as a form of advocacy journalism, compatible with John Downing’s categorisation of ‘lateral’ and ‘vertical’ campaigning in ‘radical alternative’ publications (1984; 2001,p.x). The way that the move from private to public spheres happened, it is argued, reflects the roots of anti-colonialism communication - at a time when the Left in France was more receptive to anti-fascism as a campaigning tool.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalWeb journal of French media studies
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • press
  • protest
  • private and public sphere
  • Subbiah
  • textile strikes
  • freedom movement
  • French India
  • Pondicherry
  • newspaper censorship
  • low wages
  • nationalism


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