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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Contesting clothes in colonial Brazzaville
Author:Martin, Phyllis M.ISNI
Periodical:The Journal of African History
Geographic terms:Congo (Republic of)
Abstract:The significance of dress in mediating social relations was deeply rooted in the Central African experience. Central Africans had a strong sense of the 'politics of costume' long before new sources and ideas of clothing arrived with colonialism. The colonial experience of Brazzaville, capital of French Equatorial Africa (AEF), injected two new dimensions into the clothing tradition. First, many who had previously lacked access to clothes now had the chance to wear them every day and to choose among different styles. Secondly, colonial rule brought closer interaction among peoples from more diverse regions than had previously existed. Foreign workers from West Africa, the French Antilles and the Central African coastal regions pioneered new styles which were quickly appropriated by other townspeople. Europeans also seemed to confirm the importance of dress and were a model for those who considered themselves 'évolués'. In this environment, the importance of clothing was only enhanced, for material possessions expressed new cultural and social categories in a visible manner. In the late colonial period, the sources allow a deeper understanding of the relationship of dress to controversial social issues. Clothing became an arena for contesting and asserting class, gender and generational roles. Notes, ref., sum.