Article

Colonialism's Clothing: Africa, France, and the Deployment of Fashion

Authors:
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the author.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the author.

... For these women, cultural aspects such as dress practices cannot be separated from religious ties to the Islamic faith (Tawfiq & Ogle, 2013). Dress serves as an instrument to describe its wearer in terms of cultural origin and communicates internal aspects such as cultural values and cultural identity underpinning behavior (Forney & Rabolt, 1997;Rovine, 2009). Cultural differences are accentuated through different dress practices, and in this manner, unique cultural identities are created (Rovine, 2009). ...
... Dress serves as an instrument to describe its wearer in terms of cultural origin and communicates internal aspects such as cultural values and cultural identity underpinning behavior (Forney & Rabolt, 1997;Rovine, 2009). Cultural differences are accentuated through different dress practices, and in this manner, unique cultural identities are created (Rovine, 2009). ...
... Identity refers to a self-definition and can be defined as ''the organized set of characteristics an individual perceives as representing or defining the self in a given social situation'' (Kaiser, 1997, p. 186). Dress is a means of establishing, reinforcing, and communicating one's identity (Rovine, 2009). Clothing announces who we are as well as who we want to be (Arthur, 2000;Chattalas & Harper, 2007). ...
Article
Full-text available
This study explores the role of important values and predominant identity in the dress practices of female Muslim students attending a university in South Africa. Data were collected through a self-administered questionnaire using a purposive convenience sample of 200 female Muslim students. A cluster analysis was used to divide participants into groups based on their dress practices. The sample could be divided into two groups: those who follow less modest and those who follow more modest dress practices. An independent t-test was calculated to determine if there was a significant difference between the important values and predominant identity of the less modest and more modest groups. The results revealed differences in the significance of certain values and predominant identity. The more modest group placed more importance on religious values, while the less modest group attributed more importance to social values than the more modest group. For the more modest group their Muslim identity was more predominant than for the less modest group. Despite these differences, both groups tended to communicate a hybrid identity, as aspects of Islamic and Western thought and behavior were synthesized in each individual’s dress practice. The study offers benefits to scholars interested in the social-cultural aspects of clothing by showing how people manipulate their appearances and cultural forms to create a specific reality and to adapt to multicultural environments (e.g. campuses).
... In order to decentre this settler perspective, new stories must be told and forgotten histories must be brought to light. Moves to 'decolonize' fashion and rethink distinctions between western fashion and non-western or Indigenous 'costume' have gained significant traction in recent years, especially with the work of the Research Collective for Decolonizing Fashion (RCDF, established in 2012) and fashion scholars such as Erica de Greef (2019), Elke Gaugele and Monica Titton (2019) and Victoria Rovine (2009Rovine ( , 2015. Just as invasion is a structure not an event, so too is decolonization an ongoing practice, a historical process rather than a metaphor (Tuck and Yang 2012: 3). ...
Article
Familiar narratives of fashion history in Aotearoa New Zealand recount the successes of Pākehā (New Zealand European) designers who have forged a distinctive fashion industry at the edge of the world. This narrative overlooks the history of Māori fashion cultures, including the role of ‘style activism’ enacted by political figures such as Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan and collectives such as the Pacific Sisters who advanced the status of Māori and Pasifika design in the twentieth century. It also ignores the changing nature of the New Zealand fashion industry today. One of the most significant recent initiatives to alter perceptions of fashion in Aotearoa New Zealand has been Miromoda, the Indigenous Māori Fashion Apparel Board (IMFAB), established in 2008. By championing the work of Māori fashion designers and prioritizing the values of te ao Māori (the Māori world-view), Miromoda is successfully contributing to the ‘decolonization’ of the New Zealand fashion industry. This article foregrounds practices of cultural collectivity, including that of style activists such as Tirikatene-Sullivan and the Pacific Sisters, and Māori fashion designers such as Kiri Nathan, Tessa Lont (Lontessa) and Bobby Campbell Luke (Campbell Luke), to explore the expansion of a more affirmative fashion future in Aotearoa New Zealand.
... Whilst negotiating for access, researchers recognised that they had to abide with traditional dress. In Africa, adhering to the dress code of traditional communities indicates respect and association with national, regional, tribal or religious identity (Allman, 2004;Rovine, 2009;Richins, 1994). Researchers shared that they were shown to dress with a cloth or minwenda, according to the Vhavenda culture. ...
Article
Full-text available
Conducting research in indigenous settings in rural villages, where traditional leaders are the custodians of communities remains a challenge. Traditional health practitioners have to adapt their protocols to the needs of the cultural setting. When gaining access to a setting, researchers have to follow a process that respects the autonomy of individuals, thus adhering to one of the ethical principles of research with human participants. In this paper, the researchers reflect on gaining access to conduct research with traditional health practitioners and traditional leaders in Vhembe district, South Africa. Researchers participated in sharing circles, and identified five reflective themes. The themes included initiating agreement and rapport, continuous negotiation and compromise, Them and Us, adhering to local dress code and ritual performance. Researchers planning to conduct research with traditional health practitioners and traditional leaders should consider these themes in the preparation phase.
... Sabatino, for example, has demonstrated in a series of cases that the issues of what he calls the primitive or savage "exemplify a diffused phenomenon that has engendered the competing politics of modern identity that in turn have shaped nineteenth-and twentieth-century architecture and urbanism" (Sabatino, 2008:362). On a similar note, Morton (2000) has commented that even where world expositions have aimed to separate the 'native' from colonialism-for example where one "demonstrated Europe's sophistication in art deco style, while the colonial pavilions were 'authentic' native environments for displaying indigenous peoples and artifacts from the colonies,"-the two are instead often mixtures of both.These problematic issues are also seen in fashion (Rovine, 2009), where the matter is complicated further still, by the notion that what constitutes "a dress" or a "liveable house" may vary within a particular culture and from culture to culture; what is an appropriate house or legal or illegal dress also varies from situation to situation as well as from nation to nation. More particularly, the competition or struggle between the savage and the cultivated, between the historic and the contemporary, between the colonised and the coloniser have also been manifested in three realms applicable to both architecture and fashion: ...
Article
Full-text available
The human body has been pivotal in much architectural research. Researchers of public space often underscore its interactive and transformative qualities as linking to a broader understanding of the different individual social practices taking place in such spaces. What seems to be lacking however is an analysis of the relationship between the dressed body and the built environment which together constitute a public space. The aim of this paper is to explore and elaborate on the interaction between dressed bodies and architectural structures and outline an alternative approach to understanding the different aesthetic forces at play in the constitution of public space. Using a photographic series of piloted experimental sites, this paper points out how the aesthetics of fashion enrich, contribute to, and change the aesthetics of urban architectural environments. The result prompts a clearer understanding of the interaction between dressed bodies and architecture and offers guidance for future research designed to bridge the gap between the aesthetics of the scale of the body and the scale of building and infrastructure in the constitution of public space.
... Clothing in the realm of fashion is a powerful means to express and reinforce cultural identity (Rovine 2009), and is therefore important within the context of decolonising fashion design educational approaches. In this regard, visual literacy abilities to use, understand and create visual information to express personal and cultural perspectives are core competencies to consider in student training programs. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Visual literacy is a core competency required to express and reinforce cultural identity through clothing in the realm of fashion, and is therefore important within the context of decolonising fashion design education. Traditionally, curricula focused on the Euro-centric concept of fashion and accordingly, teaching methods and design products expected from students were mostly applicable within this context. Nevertheless, in South Arica, due to political and educational reform, the demographics of students in fashion design programs in Universities have changed radically over the past two decades to include diverse African and South African cultures. This changed situation increasingly challenged the relevance of conventional teacher-centered visual literacy teaching applied in the past. In this regard, the author of this paper supports the global argument that it is imperative for educators in their fields to transform teaching approaches fundamentally in order to be more inclusive and relevant to a diverse student body, as a critical aspect of decolonising of knowledge in tertiary education. This paper represents a starting point of a process to address the decolonisation of fashion design teaching approaches, by proposing a conceptual framework for a teaching strategy that aims to facilitate principles that enable students to construct visual literacy competencies that are rooted in the cultural and personal perspective of an individual. Viewing the proposed teaching strategy through the lens of social constructivism acknowledges the context of students, which in this paper relates to respect for the roots for others. To inform the teaching strategy, the discussion reviews pertinent literature that explores the dimensions of a decolonising visual literacy teaching strategy. Guiding principles from a social constructivist teaching perspective, relates to the learning environment that includes the roles of the instructor and students, and assessment of contextual authenticity of students' visual literacy in their design work. Implementing the proposed teaching strategy is an attempt to work towards an enhanced student-designer with visual literacy knowledge and skills that are rooted in the personal and cultural perspectives of the individual.
Article
What makes fashion “local”? What makes it “sustainable”? Can non-Western fashion locales have the same definitions of sustainability espoused by the global industry? This article reflects on a fashion “sustainability” for Bahrain and the Arab Gulf that goes beyond a focus on product. Specifically, the article explores how fashion space is used in Bahrain by different groups, as well as equity of experience and phenomenology of these spaces in Bahrain. Fashion spaces—such as the mall or souk—are primary areas of public gathering in the Gulf. Based on the results of qualitative interviews and a Delphi study, this article puts forward the example of fashion spaces and tailoring in Bahrain, where an expanded definition of use is found in Gulf fashion practice when compared to the traditional “life cycle” view used in fashion sustainability discourse. These differences in fashion ontology compared to a Western context impact what could be considered true “innovation” in the case of the Arab Gulf. For instance, cocreation through tailoring in the Gulf is culturally prevalent and a default feature of existing material culture, whereas similar notions are classified in a context of “innovation” in Western discourse. Thus it becomes crucial to explore an Arab Gulf ontology of fashion as a precursor to its “sustainability” and honest discussion of its own transformation toward sustainability.
Article
Drawing on two case studies of designers whose work centered on the Vietnamese aó dài, one from the 1930s and the other the 2010s–2020s, this article considers how desires to construe fashion as art and the designer as fine artist have been implicated in transnational circuits of symbolic and material value, as well as colonial and postcolonial power relations. While decolonial scholarship on fashion has called for attention to diverse dress practices that are external to modernity and coloniality, this article argues that artist-designers’ demands for recognition of Vietnamese dress within universalizing systems of fashion and art can also constitute a decolonial move because they highlight the plurality at the heart of fashion’s aesthetic and material regime. At the same time, the designers’ creative processes often grapple with internalized discourses of essentialized Vietnamese identities that have emerged within a patriarchal context and have tended to deploy the clothed bodies of women. In simultaneously positioning their fashion as art and asserting an essentialized national identity, Vietnamese designers in different temporal contexts have both constituted and challenged the ideological and material contours of the raced, gendered, and classed hierarchies of modernity, coloniality, and fashion.
Article
Mode ist ein multidimensionales Phänomen und kann aus verschiedenen Blickwinkeln analysiert werden. Sowohl im Alltag als auch im akademischen Kontext wird sie jedoch vergleichsweise selten als politisches Phänomen gesehen. Dennoch können sowohl die Mode als auch die Kleidung Mittel zur Bildung, zur Aufrechterhaltung oder zur Umgestaltung von Relationen von Macht, zur (Re-)Affirmation bestehender Gesellschaftsstrukturen oder zur Artikulation individueller und kollektiver Identitäten sein. Die Rhetorik der Kleidung wird bisweilen als Form des politischen Protests und der Forderung nach gesellschaftlicher Anhörung sowie Anerkennung genutzt, die Kleidungspraktiken können verboten, befohlen, in Frage gestellt oder fetischisiert werden, sie beeinflussen die Produktionsform und die Entwicklung der Industrie, während öffentliche Debatten zu Kleidungspraktiken nicht selten zu gesellschaftlichen Echos fuhren. Dabei ist die politische Bedeutung einer Kleidung nicht für immer gegeben, weil die mit ihr einhergehende Bedeutung sich durch grosse Instabilität charakterisiert. Thema des vorliegenden Artikels sind die wichtigsten Kontexte zur Verbindung von Mode und Politik im akademischen Modediskurs. Es werden zeitgenössische Forschungstexte analysiert, die sich mit dem politischen Charakter von Mode und Kleidung befassen. Hauptziel des Artikels ist, eine Differenzierung zwischen dem "politischen Charakter von Mode" und der "Politisierung von Kleidung" einzuführen, die es ermöglicht, das Wissen über Mode als politischer Kraft zu kategorisieren. Die kritische Analyse des Forschungsstands der gegenwärtigen fashion studies zeigt darüber hinaus weitere Forschungsrichtungen der besprochenen Thematik auf.
Article
This article investigates the use of the Autochrome, an important photographic process invented by the Lumière brothers that produced the most accurate representation of colour between 1907 and the early 1930s, in a government-backed exhibition of French luxury commodities, the Salon du Goût Français. Between 1921 and 1923 the exhibition showed in Paris and undertook two international tours, first to North America and then to Australasia, China, Vietnam, Japan and India. Thousands of objects were displayed, from automobiles to umbrellas, including couture, ready to wear, lingerie, menswear, children's wear and accessories. By reducing the objects to two dimensions on the glass Autochrome plates, the exhibition could be shown in a relatively small venue in Paris, transported to America in a trunk and voyage on a decommissioned battle cruiser to the Far East. Using the trope of Western fashion as a form of soft power mediated by the global reach afforded by the Autochromes, the article proposes that the Salon du Goût Français offered a kind of roving virtual art gallery, a vividly colourful encyclopaedic display of over 2,000 images of luxury manufacturing deployed to restore France's imperial and cultural hegemony as supreme arbiter of taste after the trauma of the First World War.
Article
Full-text available
Much research has been done on fashion globally; just as a lot has been documented from the study of politics and of politicians. In spite of these, few studies have found it compelling to interrogate the connexion between fashion and legislative politics in African contexts. This essay engages in a comparative critique of fashion appropriations in the Nigerian and South African National Assemblies by focusing on two respective parliamentarians namely Dino Melaye and Julius Malema. The analysis builds on the thin literature at the intersection between fashion and politics in the African experience. Through an examination of specific instances of fashion performances across the lower and upper chambers of the Nigerian and South African national legislatures; the essay argues that each instance of fashion appropriation is useful in subverting cogent parliamentary concerns, or in drawing parliament's attention to issues both critical and uncritical to the electorate. It draws on
Article
In this introductory article we discuss what might be gained from examining more familiar areas of anthropological research such as cloth, dress or material culture through fashion as an analytical category and, in turn, how insights from Pacific clothing cultures can broaden understandings of fashion. Our aim is to unsettle the ethnographic gaze that is often brought to bear on non-western cultures of fashion, cloth, clothing, style and innovation. Fashion, as we conceive of it, spans from the physical production and design of garments and objects to everyday appearances, the desire to be ‘in vogue’ and the consumption of aesthetic objects that are considered popular. From this starting point we move analyses of fashion from the systemic to the experiential, reflecting ethnographic sensitivity to everyday embodied practice and the constant political and creative negotiation of values and norms that takes place in quotidian social relations. We situate these analyses in a region that is often perceived to be at the very edge of the world economy and invite further discussion about the relationship between fashion and the global flow of people, ideas and commodities.
Article
Full-text available
This paper interrogates the identities in the representations of women adorned in African cultural dress forms in contemporary Nigerian paintings. While many studies have explored the subject of African dress forms from other viewpoints, not many are known to investigate the topic from the perspective of contemporary Nigerian paintings. It is for this reason I purposively selected five paintings from different artists in which they represented women adorned in African dress forms to communicate the expressions of personal, social, religious, and cultural identities within different contexts. Although the contemporary paintings give clues to the expressions of identities in dress, the ideas and meanings conveyed were also interrogated in each work. In engaging the paintings in close case study interrogations, the paper combines formal analysis and cultural history methodologies. Formal analysis is adopted for the analysis of the formal elements in each painting, whereas cultural history is used to contextualise each painting within the culture and history that is recalled to give the representation its proper identity. Besides, the close case study analysis reveals that the artists drew inspiration from the personal aesthetics of women adorned in African dress forms in different Nigerian cultures. Through the representations, three notable African cultural identities are manifested, which include Yoruba, Gwari, or Gbagyi and Hausa cultures, aside from other identities interrogated in each painting.
Article
Full-text available
In 1938, a woman’s burial was uncovered by road builders at Ketilsstaðir in north-eastern Iceland. Recently, her physical remains and associated funerary goods were re-examined by an international, interdisciplinary team and formed the basis for an exhibition at the National Museum of Iceland in 2015. This paper focuses on the items of dress that accompanied the woman — born in the British Isles, but who migrated to Iceland at a very young age — to gain insights into the ways her cultural identity was expressed at the time of her death. Here we explore the roles played by material culture in signaling her identity, and the technologies and trade networks through which she was connected, visually, to Scandinavia, the British Isles, and the Viking world at large.
Article
This article historicises Josephine Baker’s use of fashion in terms of contemporary black stage performers, particularly Beyoncé Knowles-Carter’s evolving black feminist politics. It examines Beyoncé’s references to Baker as an inspiration for her own black feminist art and argues that they offer an opportunity to re-examine Baker’s legacy in our own contemporary moment. Using Beyoncé’s arguments about Baker as a starting point, the article examines Baker’s fashions and costumes and argues that she used them to manipulate her relationship to the models of white supremacy that attempted to structure her identity and relationship to the public sphere. Using contemporary black feminist criticisms of respectability politics, it argues that Baker’s fashions produced a politics of disrespectability, where clothing and body worked together to carve out space for black feminist experimentation. By constantly changing the terms through which her audiences and the public read her, Baker carved out a subjective space where she could become in relation to her clothes without restraining herself to the identity categories normatively allotted to black women.
Book
Full-text available
Sustainability brings us echoes, arriving from the most diverse sources, from a contemporary speech centered in the desirable evolution of a simultaneously political, economical, environmental and, of course, cultural conscience regarding the impact of man’s changing presence and action in the world. Therefore, the concept emerges in association with an increasing insistence on practices that define – and are defined by – design. To think design from sustainability, DESIGNA’s second edition theme, contemplates the need to reflect on design’s role and responsibility in a complex system dictated by the tensions of a liberal economy built over hegemonic-predisposed production and communication mechanisms, formatted to a worldwide scale throughout the last decades. The complexity of this system reflects the itinerary of an industrial and technological society towards a world apparently ruled by information, reflecting not only the course of design itself, but also its leadership in the definition of production and consumption logics set upon a philosophy of project whose ambition easily abandons the object’s confined universe (in its most distinctive configurations) to set foot in the creation of the total environment that frames it. Even if the market’s expansion demands the industry and therefore design to, together with the satisfaction of consumer’s needs, diversify forms and explore the superfluous in order to create an economic value that will end up generating a culture of dissatisfaction and squander, nonetheless last decades have been promoting a speech increasingly defined by rationalization and resource management strategies. As a result, designers are confronted with a new challenged, outlined by optimization and concession, within which they are led to think themselves as a sort of social programmers, trying to articulate ecological logics and practices able to redefine production from a new table of principles – such as recycling, non pollution, durability, efficiency, maximum advantage and minimum impact – and, consequently, (re)establishing the balance among the market’s needs, production’s possibilities, consumer’s satisfaction and the environment. Therefore, it’s not difficult to apprehend the uneasiness and apprehension that come with considering the role of design in a society still abounding of an euphoric, misguided and naïf belief in the unstoppable character of technological progress, so many times defined by mere entertainment. DESIGNA 2012 would thus like to contribute to criticize that role, pointing the cultural debate to the project’s teleology and leading the scientific community, once again, to a joint reflection about the possibility (or impossibility) or a “nicer, more humane, domestic, habitable, tolerant and pleasant” design that reflects a sort of collective intelligentsia, as established by Medelín’s Maniphesto, in 2002.
Article
Full-text available
This article is contributing to form a link between the fashion and textile industries, educational institutions and the society. Through this article we throw light on how problems of developing nations could be solved by institutions offering fashion education by bringing them close to the concept of social and cultural capital. More than economic benefits this knowledge is also a vast exploration of social and cultural aspects which is quite a requirement for an individual. The purpose of study is theoretical foundation, development goals, content, and methods of preparation of the fashion designers in the emerging economies to address the socio-cultural problems. Its significance is to establish a global humanitarian and sociocultural influence of fashion education in the processes taking place in emerging economies. Potential Impact of conducting this research is to implement a model of fashion education in existing educational systems to serve the respective societies better. The basic problems of training designers with economies in transition in terms of their impact on the socio-cultural processes in these countries are solved in this paper. The relationship of the processes taking place in the fashion industry and education is considered. This paper investigates and clarifies the nature and features of socio-cultural issues in fashion education on the basis of psycho-pedagogical, historical, methodological literature and vocational training practices in emerging economies. The model of training future designers is developed and theoretically grounded to solve socio cultural issues in professional activity and it links targeted semantic, procedural and efficient analytical components.
Chapter
Full-text available
The acquisition of African languages may refer to past or contemporary learning of African languages either unconsciously through native speaker acquisition (L1) or with conscious intentionality as a second language (L2). The acquisition of African languages is relevant to African cultural heritage in North America by virtue of the fact that language is the primary vehicle by which culture is transmitted intergenerationally. Therefore, the acquisition of African languages serves as a powerful exemplar of African cultural continuity in the North American context. This entry discusses the acquisition of African languages from the past to more recent times to gain a broader understanding of the interrelated processes and manifestations of African cultural retention and continuity.
Article
Full-text available
The purpose of this interpretive study was to explore how Saudi Arabian women construct and present the self through their choice of dress for the private sphere. The work was situated within the interactionist and dramaturgical traditions. Data were collected via in-depth interviews with 15 Saudi Arabian women and were analyzed using constant comparison processes. Analyses revealed three key themes related to Saudi women’s use of private sphere dress to construct and present the self: (a) conceptualizing the desired self, (b) making sense of the marketplace: the role of traditional and Western dress in mobilizing desired selves, and (c) looking glasses: the role of others in mobilizing desired selves. Findings revealed that as they presented the self through dress within the private sphere, Saudi women engaged in a complex process of navigating Islamic teachings and Saudi cultural conventions, shifting cultural mores, and the diverse expectations of others.
Article
Full-text available
To appreciate better the uncertain and unstable way that Herero women of Botswana understand their distinctive dress, I extend Bakhtin's notion of "sparkle" to include the disparate modalities through which meaning is constituted. An embodied subjectivity, or experiential sensibility, intrudes upon structured contrasts that also give the dress meaning in such registers as gender, ethnic relations, and the political economy of the liberal democratic state. I use Herero women's sense of the dress to question recent approaches to "culture" among scholars who look only at its differentiating function, since Herero women also see the dress as a means of building mutuality.
Article
Despite centuries of missionary work and trade along the African coasts, not until European colonization at the end of the nineteenth century did African art reach significant levels of visibility in Europe. French interest in Africa gained momentum when Picasso and others witnessed public performances by African-Americans of ragtime music and the cakewalk dance. This exposure led these artists to better appreciate the African sculpture they saw at Parisian flea markets, or in the many world and colonial expositions held after 1900 (Blake 1999). Contact with African music and art then contributed to abstraction in modern art. What began early in the twentieth century was, by the mid-1920s, a full-blown "negrophilia" fueled by jazz music, the Charleston dance, and the Harlem Renaissance (Archer-Straw 2000). Interest in Africa was reflected in the design of everything from furniture, ceramics, and jewelry, to garment styles and textiles (Wood 2003a).This article examines three ways in which textile artists in Europe and the United States borrowed from African and African-American art sources in order to create "Africana" textiles during the 1920s and 1930s: through imitation, adaptation, and transformation. Imitation occurred when artists borrowed by copying directly from African art. Artists adapted African art patterns to suit their creative and commercial needs, also adapting the energetic sounds of jazz onto textiles perceived to be simultaneously primitive and modern. A third group of artists transformed their source of inspiration, creating images that were the products of Western stereotypes and fantasies long associated with the African landscape, its animals, and its people, rather than images based on African art.