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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Introduction: united in dress: negotiating gender and hierarchy with festival uniforms
Author:Röschenthaler, UteISNI
Periodical:Africa: Journal of the International African Institute (ISSN 0001-9720)
Geographic term:Africa
social status
External link:https://doi.org/10.1017/S0001972015000510
Abstract:This article introduces four articles in this issue of Africa on the theme 'United in dress'. These articles explore examples of particular types of uniforms, how people use decorated cloth, and the projects for which they use it when they wear dress with the same decoration for specific, often recurrent, events. Such decorated uniforms made from industrially produced fabrics have been observed at naming ceremonies, funerals, chiefs' installation festivities and weddings, at political and religious events, concerts, commemoration ceremonies and festivals at least since the early twentieth century. Participants at these events wear uniforms of decorated wax, fancy cloth or T-shirts, some of which also have printed photographs, brands and/or logos on them. Depending on the context, some of these uniforms resemble each other quite closely, while others allow for individual differences. With their uniforms, the participants visualize a sense of belonging to a community that reflects different degrees of association, ranging from casual gatherings at these events to more rooted and longer-term affiliations. A closer look at African cloth practices provides a better understanding of the present-day meanings of associations' decorated uniforms and of the dress that bears the photographs of individuals. Dressing-up practices are often seen as being concerned with the fashioning of the self and identity construction. The contributions to the dossier 'United in dress' focus instead on the social (and political) concerns that are visually expressed with decorated uniforms. They focus in three particular ways: Sameness and individual style; Sameness and status hierarchies; Negotiation of gender relations with cloth. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum [ASC Leiden abstract]