Fashioning Identities: Types, Customs, and Dress in a Global Context
A Symposium at Hunter College, City University of New York, October 18-19, 2013
Chairs: Lynda Klich and Tara Zanardi, Dept. of Art & Art History
Pictorial imagery of local types, traditions, and dress has a long history, dating back to the sixteenth century. From costume books and street criers to travel albums and Hispanic costumbrismo, such representations captured people and daily life in a purportedly realistic manner, often emphasizing specificity over universal themes. Popular types, customs, and dress served as both sources of national pride and exotic spectacles of regional traditions. These depictions of local color often valued certain practices, regions, or types over others and were directed to native and foreign audiences alike. They came to have a global reach, serving as authoritative vehicles to disseminate values and beliefs about an individual place or people and cementing imperial ambitions, political ties, and economic networks.
This symposium will explore the nuanced and complex ways in which such representations of peoples, places, and cultures—sometimes viewed as portraying a static or conservative vision—simultaneously engaged with the increasingly industrialized and global world. The organisers seek papers that offer interdisciplinary approaches and look at such imagery through the lenses of diverse disciplines, such as art history, material culture, literature, and anthropology, and that connect these depictions to broader, cultural, political, social, and economic issues, including international artistic trends, nationalism, diplomacy, tourism, class, and trade. Papers may examine the prevalence of such images on any type of object, including paintings, decorative arts, clothing, books, prints, albums, photographs, and postcards, or explore theoretical concerns such as circulation, seriality, compilation, and the creation of stereotypes. It is hopeed that together the papers will present the rich and complex history of the representation of types, customs, and dress as not only simply validating preconceptions of a culture’s practices and people, but also confounding expected perspectives.