BS (Social Sciences & Liberal Arts)

Faculty / School

School of Economics and Social Sciences (SESS)


Department of Social Sciences & Liberal Arts

Date of Award

Summer 2023

Date of Submission



Dr. Ahmad Azhar, Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator MS Develop Studies, Department of Social Sciences


Aliya Iqbal Naqvi, Faculty Member, Department of Social Sciences

Project Type

SSLA Culminating Experience

Access Type

Restricted Access


This thesis is an attempt at the examination of the cultural economy of tea within the South Asian post-colonial landscape. This exposition delves into the intricacies of the discourse surrounding tea: a commodity that is ubiquitously present in a myriad of spaces across the South Asia post-colonial nation states. By carefully navigating through the convoluted historical route of tea, this exposition hopes to assess how the colonial legacy of tea ‘chai’ shapes the present status quo and discourse that surrounds it.

This humble attempt examines the confluence of cultural and historical forces that have shaped the social, political, and economic significance of tea, as a product, across post-colonial South Asia. From the slightly mystic origins of tea, which are steeped in a palpable sense of contestation and conjecture, to the complex interplay of social, cultural, and economic factors that have sustained its popularity, tea has long been a commodity of great significance.

By exploring tea’s ‘chai’s’ historical trajectory, which is grounded in both primary and secondary sources, this thesis hopes to present a comprehensive analysis of how the colonial set of ideas surrounding tea continues to influence its post-colonial conceptualization. Consequently, this thesis explores the discourse surrounding three primary discrete-case studies and compares it to colonial advertisements and pamphlets, elucidating the intricate ways in which colonial vocabularies, attitudes, sets of behavior, and ideas continue to shape the post-colonial cultural landscape surrounding tea.

And yet, this exposition also illustrates how the colonial set of ideas surrounding tea have been actively contested in the vernacular space, allowing for a reclamation of identity that is arguably neo-colonial, nationalist, or indigenous in nature. This nuanced analysis of the complex interplay between the colonial and the post-colonial landscape adds to the existing literature that underscores the spatial, material, psychological, sociological, ideational, and intellectual connection between the two domains: the colonial landscape and its post-colonial successor.

In summary, this thesis endeavors to present a modest examination of the cultural economy of tea. It seeks to scrutinize the multifaceted influence of colonial heritage on the contemporary conceptualization of this commodity. By means of primary research, and using various secondary sources, this scholarly work aspires to construct a persuasive argument for the enduring importance of tea-related discourse within post-colonial nation states in South Asia. Furthermore, it aims to offer profound insights into the intricate forces that have shaped the evolutionary trajectory of tea over the course of centuries.


v, 63

The full text of this document is only accessible to authorized users.