‘In This Country, Beauty Is Defined by Fairness of Skin.’ Skin Colour Politics and Social Stratification in India

  • Nina Kullrich
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Globalization and Embodiment book series (PSGE)


A pervasive preference for lighter complexions in India has become apparent, not least in the increasing consumption of skin-lightening products. Scholarship on colourism situates skin bleaching primarily within the context of (post-)colonial racism and global white supremacy. Building on these approaches, this chapter proposes to understand ‘white’ as a travelling and relational concept and, in the Indian context, to distinguish analytically between the concepts of ‘fair’ and ‘white’. Hence, the central aim of this chapter is to de-centralise, even de-colonialize ‘whiteness’ in beauty studies. By examining the shades of meaning of skin colour and different social functions of skin bleaching, it shows how skin colour is (re)produced as a political signifier and as the embodied materiality of social relations, primarily those of class and gender.


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nina Kullrich
    • 1
  1. 1.Bayreuth UniversityBayreuthGermany

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