Hansen, Karen Tranberg. 2004. “The World in Dress: Anthropological Perspectives on Clothing, Fashion, and Culture.” Annual Review of Anthropology. Vol.33, pp.369-392.
Independent Reading Notes
“The World in Dress: Anthropological Perspectives on Clothing, Fashion and Culture”
- Scholars examine the significance of dress in the context of the entire economic circuit and the unequal relationships between its actors.
- Fashion research=becoming scientifically popular. There are even museum exhibitions where fashion is displayed as art.
- Because of theoretical paradigms, the study of fashion has been neglected and considered superficial.
- Fashion study started to become popular in the 1980’s.
- Fashion is importantly connected to consumption: not only in the economic market but also in the construction of cultural identity.
- Clothing research is not a separate anthropological field, its part of other anthropological studies.
- Strive for power influences the dress and its presentation.
- Influential change not only includes westernization and colonialism, but also globalization.
- Term “dress” is neutral. There is a misconception with the definitions of “clothing, costume, dress, garment, apparel and fashion.”
- The trivial attitude of consumers devalues the importance of dress as cultural/economic importance.
- The westernization of fashion and commercial manufacturing has caused non-western countries dress to be “traditional”; antiquating a common identity.
- Dress touches the body and is an outward presentation-reason for anthropological approach.
- Subjective and social experiences of dress do not always combine well.
- People care a lot about their perception to others, influencing dress decisions.
- Clothes are an important consumption good.
- Mesoamerica and the Andes are the top dawg regions of research.
- They’ve examined the changing dynamics of indigenous dress
- De pollera is an identifier for the Indigenous community; cholo is an urban Indian and de vestido is an Indian in white/mestizo dress.
- Traje is tradition Mayan dress. The community uses trajes for tourism advantages and parades.
- “New Traditional” is carefully chosen characteristics of the traditional culture and become a mainstream connection. Example= Bordados from Peru- garments with brightly colored embroidery.
- Cholo pacenos=migrant Aymara servants who are in house workers in elite neighborhoods.
- Scholarship on African dress is based on the transformation of cloth/clothing. Also the effects of colonization, modernity and globalization on dress and identity.
- Local practices have changed in complex ways in interaction with Islam and Christianity.
- Africa presents two broad dress cultures= 1. cloth draping 2. tailored western style.
- Nigeria=young women dress in black cloth at marriage, hunters wear black and white striped shirts and chiefs wear red masquerade cloth with intricate patterns. White cloth is related to spirituality.
- Buna cloths outlive their owners and are handed down.
- Technologies of cloth production are determined by several types of cloth, conversion to Islam on the cloth trade, British colonialism and factory produced yarn.
- Missionary conversion in Botswana and South Africa reformed regular nudity and hygiene regimes.
- Dress effects=class, gender, and generation.
- The idea of national dress is different pre/post independence.
- La sape is French slang for elegant and fashionable clothing
- Spirits of the Bori cult choose their mediums based on their dress.
- Artisan production is in danger because of a global economy dependent on mass production.
- India dress is influenced by colonization and imperialism/nationalism.
- The dress icon is a sari=a draped garment for women.
- Shalwar kamiz is the representation of regional/national and international Indian dress.
- In 1920’s Ghandi promoted the use of homemade cloth to restore spirituality. It was not successful for the Indian elite and village women.
- Ethnic fashion revived in the boutiques.
East and Southeast Asia
- Dress changes because of political/socioeconomic transformation into western standards, and military dominance and globalization processes.
- Dress icons= sarong in Indonesia, qipao in China, ao dai in Vietnam and kimono in Japan.
- Indonesian dress is a product of changing relationship between indigenous, Muslim and western influences.
- The kimono and western style are in competition with each other because the kimono also represents work wear/fashion item and art form.
- The Japanese usually wear kimonos for special occasions because they regular wear western dress.
- China combined the dress elements of many national ethnic groups and western styles with a focus on gipao fashion; which is an emerging fashion.
- China’s dress evolution is influenced by the Cultural Revolution because certain styles were outlawed and replaced with a mandated style.
- The ao dai in Vietnam is considered the national costume.
- Japan has become a key player in the global industry of high fashion, both in Europe and East Asia.
- In response to uniforms, Japanese youth fashion themselves with cute things to counteract expectations.
- Missionaries were happy about religious conversions because it was an adoption of new morals for mind and body.
- The missionary inspired Mother Hubbard dress is the national dress and associated with the definition of proper womanhood.
- Dress has a cultural and ritual significance and has standards for gender and status/rank.
- Burdened with cultural significance against women in the Islamic societies.
- Some references to the veil: hijab, chador, burqah and bui-bui. And because of its visibility it’s become a Muslim identity.
- Politics and religion heavily influence on women’s dress.
- In Turkey, blue headscarves and long coats were association with the Islamic political party. Turning Testettur into political chic.
- Hijab in Egypt became a symbol for Islamic activism
- For some Islamic societies, the adoption of “veiling” is symbolized as presenting strong womanhood and challenging societal norms towards gender and class.
- Representation, gender construction, performance and politics.
- The winning queens in Liberia represent different tribes, which then causes political conflict in the body of the queen.
- In Belize beauty queens were spokeswoman for the new political reform.
- In British Virgin Islands, Mr. Personality and Ms. Glamour challenge stereotypical gender norms; the women are in business wear and do sports while the men express talent and wear a bathing suit.
- Miss Galaxy beauty contest is on Tonga Island; demonstrating beauty, glamour, flamboyancy and creativity.
- The contest removes itself from a local connection because of its challenge against gender norms, but it’s still local because of its physical location.
- Miss Germany and Miss Canada are transgender beauty queens that challenge gender norms of the pageant business.
- Thrift stores are created for a niche market in the West, but in third world, second hand clothing is an important source of clothing.
- The retro style is popular amongst youth style.
- Growth of the secondhand clothing market in Zambia is representation of economic decline.
- India prohibits the import of secondhand clothing.
- India receives mutilated fabrics that are manipulated to produce other goods. They also depend on their own national second-hand resources.
- Export/Import/Production of dress defines the difference between global north and south.
The World in Dress
- Latin America focuses on indigenous dress and its transformations
- African dress stresses the significance of dressing well and style dynamics in contemporary clothing.
- South Asia examines the changing cultural importance of the sari and its interaction with other dress styles.
- East and Southeast Asia explore the influence of local fashion and the export/important of Asian Chic.
- Ethnic dress is dynamic and always changing
- The continuous shift in dress is associated with economic/political shifts.