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Fashion and Anthropology

Brent Luvaas

Source: Fashion Photography Archive 2015

Article

Anthropologists have largely shied away from the study of fashion, preferring to focus their attention to dress on those everyday items that define an individual as part of an enduring cultural tradition. Only in the last two decades, as anthropologists have shifted their attention to global processes, have they begun to look at fashion specifically as a site of critical enquiry. As they do so, they bring with them a disciplinary attention to the messy and contradictory lived experiences that mak

Bibliographic guide

Dress, along with cloth, textiles, and adornment, has been an important part of the study of material culture in anthropology since the early times of the discipline, when the focus was on cross-cultural variation and the relationships between different parts of culture and their changes. Some earlier studies aimed specifically to record the significance of material culture in the face of change in a manner that sometimes has been described as “salvage anthropology.” A later generation of anthrop

Bibliographic guide

Sources employed for the study of dress history include documents, visual representations, and material artifacts. Documents include all manner of written records such as wills, inventories, wardrobe accounts, bills of sale, advice on dressing, as well as eyewitness accounts of how people dressed in the past. An early example would be the Roman historian Tacitus, who described the dress of the inhabitants of central Europe in Germania in 98 C.E. The visual record includes paintings, drawings, eng

Introduction: The DIY Ethos

Brent Luvaas

Source: DIY Style. Fashion, Music and Global Digital Cultures 2012

Book chapter

First and foremost, we have here a discourse that is authoritarian: one has to express oneself, one has to speak, communicate, cooperate, and so forth.

Subcultural Body Style History

Therèsa M. Winge

Source: Body Style 2012

Book chapter

From the time we are born, the human body is modified for physical, spiritual, psychological, social, and cultural transformations. In fact, prehistoric mummies found in recent years suggest that body practices, modifications, associated supplements, and rituals were significant in the earliest of human cultures (Winge 2003). In 1991 a frozen Stone Age male mummy was found in the Ötztal Alps. Nicknamed Ötzi, this mummy shows evidence of possibly the earliest body modifications ever discovered. Re

Aboriginal Dress in the Kimberley, Western Australia

Kim Akerman

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands 2010

Encyclopedia entry

As in most other areas of Australia, the Aboriginals of the Kimberley were traditionally unclothed. For them, dress consisted of headbands and hair belts. Pubic tassels (made by tying multiple strands of spun fur or hair string into a mop, suspended over the genital area) were worn occasionally. Other elements of dress consisted of ornaments made from feathers, fibers, animal teeth, or shell, the use of which was often dictated by the ceremonial and social status of the wearer. More complex ornam

Torres Strait Islander Dress, Australia

Anna Edmundson

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands 2010

Encyclopedia entry

The Torres Strait is a narrow underwater shelf connecting the northernmost tip of mainland Australia to the Gulf of Papua New Guinea. Torres Strait Islanders are the indigenous people of the region, which forms part of the Australian state of Queensland. The term ailan kastom (island custom) is used to denote those products and practices that are unique to the Torres Strait Islands, including dress.

Photographic and Other Visual Sources

Christraud M. Geary

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Africa 2010

Encyclopedia entry

Dress in Africa has attracted the attention of foreign observers since the earliest encounters with peoples on the continent. Whether they deemed it exotic, curious, ugly, beautiful, or comical, writers of all backgrounds often mentioned and depicted dress in their publications. From the seventeenth century onward, descriptions of Africa were published with engravings, woodcuts, and, later, lithographs, among other types of illustrations, that helped readers to envision faraway worlds and peoples

Aboriginal Dress in Australia: Evidence and Resources

Philip Jones

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands 2010

Encyclopedia entry

As Bernard Smith, eminent historian of the art of colonial encounter, has demonstrated so clearly, Australian Aboriginal people have often been portrayed in terms of “hard primitivism.” Their minimalist suite of material possessions, their enforced nomadism and capacity to survive the harshest conditions, has been readily juxtaposed with the “soft primitivism” of hierarchically organized and sedentary Pacific peoples. This tendency can be traced from the earliest descriptions made by Dutch seafar

Aboriginal Dress in Southeast Australia

Sylvia Kleinert

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands 2010

Encyclopedia entry

Dress embodies a complex system of meanings in Aboriginal society. On the one hand, dress is seen to be pivotal to the formation of individual and group identity, articulating relationships between private and public. On the other hand, dress expands our understanding of the way in which Aboriginal people have engaged in cross-cultural relations with a colonial regime. Prior to European contact, the dressed body and its embellishment with artifacts encoded multiple meanings as a marker of individ

Geographical and Geopolitical Introduction

Margaret Maynard

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands 2010

Encyclopedia entry

The Pacific region covers a vast geographic area. From the continent of Australia it reaches its southernmost point at Antarctica, while to the north it extends to the shores of Asia, and to the west, the Americas. It includes all the island groups of Micronesia, Polynesia, and Melanesia. The first inhabitants arrived between forty thousand and sixty thousand years ago and populated Australia and New Guinea with successive waves of Austronesians, settling island after island. The Māori were among

Dress and Time

Margaret Maynard

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Global Perspectives 2010

Encyclopedia entry

Beliefs about time as a social phenomenon underpin and help explain practices of dress, comportment, and behavior around the globe. Time is always coextensive with how, when, and why humans design, fabricate, and wear garments and accessories. The long-standing dominant Eurocentric approach to the study of dress and fashion has been the chronological method. However, doing the reverse—assuming the role of a “dress genealogist” and analyzing ways twenty-first-century clothing can be traced back to

Prehistory to Colonialism

Marie-Amy Mbow

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Africa 2010

Encyclopedia entry

Among the earliest evidence of dress in Africa are shell beads excavated in Morocco, dating back as far as 82,000 years. The oldest known textiles in Africa come from Egypt and Nubia. The Arab conquest of Egypt and the Maghreb began in 640 c.e. Between the eleventh and fifteenth centuries Islamic practice spread, directly influencing dress. Sewn clothing indicated prestige; accounts of certain African kings’ ceremonial clothing in the fourteenth century describe them wearing styles from regions i

Yoruba “Uniforms” (Asọ Ebì)

Okechukwu Nwafor

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Africa 2010

Encyclopedia entry

In the Yoruba language asọ means “cloth,” while ebì means “family.” Literally, asọ ebì thus translates as “family cloth.” However, asọ ebì, in recent times, also refers to outfits with identical or very similar colors, tailoring, and combinations of garments worn by groups of friends or family members during important ceremonies such as weddings, birthday parties, and naming ceremonies, among others, to distinguish themselves from others. Various cultural and socioeconomic changes attended asọ eb

Asọ Ebì and Fashion Magazines in Nigeria

Okechukwu Nwafor

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Africa 2010

Encyclopedia entry

Research Approaches

Lise Skov and Marie Riegels Melchior

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Global Perspectives 2010

Encyclopedia entry

Dress and fashion are rich and varied fields of study. Some scholars refer to them as “hybrid subjects” because they bring together different conceptual frameworks and disciplinary approaches, including those from anthropology, art history, cultural studies, design studies, economics, history, home economics (in the early twenty-first century more likely to be known as “family and consumer studies” or “human ecology”), literature, semiotics, sociology, visual culture, and business studies. Invari

Archaeological Evidence

Fred T. Smith

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Africa 2010

Encyclopedia entry

In Africa, the human body has always been a focus for creative expression. Each culture has evolved its own patterns of dress and associated symbolic system, yet cross-cultural influences and change have constantly occurred. A society’s political structure and religious institutions can determine the type of dress used. Societies with a centralized organization often have elaborate, even grandiose programs of visual culture associated with leadership. The ruler or an elite group often reserves th

Global Denim

Daniel Sophie

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Global Perspectives 2010

Encyclopedia entry

Although blue jeans appear to be the most common garment worn in today’s world, accounting for nearly half of what people wear in many countries on a given day, there is almost no literature on denim in the contemporary world. The Global Denim Project was established to try and explain why people wear denim. Arguments from history or commerce are insufficient to explain. Instead this article reflects on four key qualities. That the bulk of denim is cheap and generic rather not designer produced.

Introduction to Māori Dress

Patricia Te Arapo Wallace

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands 2010

Encyclopedia entry

When early Eastern Polynesian navigators explored Te Moana-Nui ā-Kiwa (“The Great Sea of Kiwa,” or the Pacific Ocean), they discovered the world’s largest oceanic archipelago, Aotearoa—New Zealand. The temperate climate of this geographically isolated land had produced a restricted range of flora and fauna. Away from their tropical homelands, the voyaging ancestors of the Māori people discovered that survival in the colder climate required significantly warmer clothing. They experimented with new

Fashion and Evolutionary Theories in Nineteenth-Century Greece

Artemis Yagou

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. East Europe, Russia, and the Caucasus 2010

Encyclopedia entry

The processes of imitation and adaptation are central to understanding creativity. Human cultures evolve through a continuous exchange of ideas, beliefs, habits, and forms. The rise of a Western-type society in Greece in the nineteenth century provides an example of the interplay between different ideas. Dress and fashion in particular constitute a fertile field where such exchanges take place. Exaggerations of Western fashion, as well as in other manifestations of imitating the West, became a so

Dressing the Body in the Western Desert, Australia

Diana Young

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands 2010

Encyclopedia entry

The accounts of Aboriginal people themselves and other historical documentation suggest that from the time indigenous people came into contact with European clothes and other textiles such as blankets and woolen yarns, they were highly desirous of them. That period of contact was later in Central Australia than elsewhere (except perhaps eastern Arnhem Land). In the Western Desert, the area south and west of what came to be called Alice Springs on Arrernte country, it was as late as the 1950s and

Themes in Cosmetics and Grooming

Murray Wax

Source: Classic and Modern Writings on Fashion 2nd Edition 2009

Book chapter

Cosmetic and grooming practices are universal among human societies. These practices may be analyzed according to casualness and control, exposure and concealment, and plasticity and fixity. The modern brassière illustrates the dialectic of exposure and concealment as well as the plastic manipulation of the body. Permanent waving illustrates the dialectic of casualness and control (manageability): the young girl exemplifies casualness in grooming; the older woman, control. Grooming is employed no

Introduction: Thinking about Hair

Geraldine Biddle-Perry and Sarah Cheang

Source: Hair. Styling, Culture and Fashion 2008

Book chapter

Just as the human body is dressed and adorned in order to participate in society, so human hair is combed, cut, coloured, curled, straightened, plaited, swept up, tied back, decorated, plucked and shaved (Synnott 1993; Cox 1999; Corson 1965; McCracken 1996). Like fashion and dress, hair can be situated as a fundamental part of ‘the means by which bodies are made and given meaning and identity’ (Entwistle 2000: 7). Humans are, of course, born naked; the flesh is totally unmarked by culture and at

Roots: Hair and Race

Sarah Cheang

Source: Hair. Styling, Culture and Fashion 2008

Book chapter

Human beings are a single species who share ninety per cent of their DNA, and rarely live in isolated, ‘pure-bred’ societies (American Anthropological Association (AAA) 1998; Cole 1965: 27). Physical diversity within ‘racial’ groups is much wider than the differences between the ‘races’, and there is no link between variations in anatomy, physiognomy or colouring, and qualities such as ‘intelligence’ or ‘natural aptitude’. For a human group to qualify as a ‘race’, seventy-five per cent of its ind

Prologue

Jonathan S. Marion

Source: Ballroom. Culture and Costume in Competitive Dance 2008

Book chapter

Increasing calls for greater ethnographic reflexivity within all forms of ethnographic explication (e.g. Ruby 2000) have come in response to the crisis in representation noted by Marcus and Fischer (1986), and it is along these lines that the extended introductory chapter explains my various roles and involvements that provided the materials for this book. In order not to draw too much attention away from the ballroom culture and community that are the focus of this text, I have elected to lay ou

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