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FRD Reading Club: Fashioning caste and race in colonial Spanish America

What role does fashion play in the creation—and imposition—of socioracial categorization? Along with March’s theme, “The Construction of Race,” FRD Senior Researcher Laura Beltrán-Rubio will lead an open conversation that considers the ways in which self-fashioning and bodily adornment were used to construct, perform, and negotiate socio-racial relations in the Spanish Empire.

Saturday, March 16, 2024

​​​1:00 – 2:00pm EST (virtual)

​​​Zoom Link and Passcode will provided upon registration.

If you are not a subscribing FRD Member,
you can get a ticket here »

Guided by three handpicked items for you to read and view, here’s what we will discuss:

  • ​How was colonialism enacted through discourses and legislation on dress and bodily adornment?
  • ​What role did sumptuary laws play in constructing socio-racial categorization and how do these principles extend into the present day?
  • ​To what point do surviving images correspond to the lived, dressed reality of inhabitants of the Spanish Empire?
  • ​How can we unpack the strategies of representation behind images of “types”? How to unveil the agency and resistance of the oppressed from colonial visual and textual archives?
  • ​What role did colonialism play in shaping contemporary Latin American fashion?

Your assignment!

​Please view and read (or skim) the following items:

  1. ​Short read (blog article): “Now on View: LACMA’s New Vicente Albán Paintings from Ecuador” by Ilona Katzew
  2. ​Video (19 minutes – the rest is optional): “The Artifice of Fashion: Creating and Performing Identities through Clothing in Colonial Spanish America” by Laura Beltran-Rubio
  3. ​Deep read (40 pages): “The Pleasures of Taxonomy: Casta Paintings, Classification, and Colonialism” by Rebecca Earle

This event is intended to be a fruitful, illuminating gathering, so please do not shame yourself for not reading or viewing everything! You can simply bring your thoughts and questions.

About Laura Beltrán-Rubio

​Dr. Laura Beltrán-Rubio is a curator, researcher, and educator specialized in Latin American and Indigenous textile and fashion arts. Her mission is to diversify global fashion by creating bridges between the fashion industry and academia. Outside the FRD, she is also Lecturer in Design Cultures at De Montfort University (UK).

​​More about our theme for March, “The Construct of Race”:

​​During the month of March, FRD will present articles, resources and programming that will deepen our understanding of how divisive the construct of race has been historically and remains to this day. Race can also be argued (most notably by writer Isabel Wilkerson) as a kind of caste system. Constructive conversations will be facilitated through month-long virtual events, and a Learning Guide on this topic will be offered to help us learn and un-learn the harmful impact of race within the fashion system.


16 Mar 2024
Ended already


1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Local Time

  • Timezone: America/New_York
  • Date: 16 Mar 2024
  • Time: 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm


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