Clothing the Pacific

Synopsis

During the colonial period, Pacific Islanders acceptance of clothing was seen by Europeans as a civilizing sign. In reality, Islanders use of foreign cloth and clothing generally involved translating indigenous preoccupations into new forms of dress. Today, both imported and indigenous cloth feature prominently in Pacific Island exchange, religious practice, clothing, domestic space, public political activity, festivals, and the art and tourist markets. This book sets out to examine the multiple histories of cloth and clothing in the Pacific and to investigate its role in social innovation and resistance from the period of contact to the present day.The past three decades have witnessed the emergence of Pacific fashion stylists as well as cloth producers who, like anthropologists, are acutely aware of how globalization impacts on identity. Typically, their work integrates both Pacific and introduced forms. This book compares these synthetic forms with others that developed in the region during the colonial period, when foreign cloth was typically adapted and incorporated within indigenous textile systems, and shows how cloth is central to the transmission of identity as well as a vehicle for associative thinking. From an analysis of the place of cloth in traditional Tahitian religion, to fashion activism within the diaspora population in New Zealand, Clothing the Pacific provides fascinating insights into the shifting relationship between cloth and social imagination. By tracing the diverse responses to the imposition of dress upon Pacific Islanders, this book profoundly challenges Western assumptions about the place of cloth in culture.

Additional information

Contributors:
Includes content by:
  • Susanne Küchler
  • Chloë Colchester
  • Alain Babadzan
  • Serge Tcherkézoff
  • Nicholas Thomas
Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Oxford, England
Publication year:
  • 2003

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