85. CSA Series: De-Colonizing Fashion History Education with Abby Lillethun & Linda Welters
April 30, 2019
In this episode, Joy talks to Abby Lillethun of Montclair University about De-Colonizing Fashion History Education. Abby Lillethun and Linda Welters are the authors of Fashion History: A Global View. The text, “proposes a new perspective on fashion history. Arguing that fashion has occurred in cultures beyond the West throughout history, this groundbreaking book explores the geographic places and historical spaces that have been largely neglected by contemporary fashion studies, bringing them together for the first time.
Reversing the dominant narrative that privileges Western Europe in the history of dress, Welters and Lillethun adopt a cross-cultural approach to explore a vast array of cultures around the globe. They explore key issues affecting fashion systems, ranging from innovation, production and consumption to identity formation and the effects of colonization. Case studies include the cross-cultural trade of silk textiles in Central Asia, the indigenous dress of the Americas and of Hawai’i, the cosmetics of the Tang Dynasty in China, and stylistic innovation in sub-Saharan Africa. Examining the new lessons that can be deciphered from archaeological findings and theoretical advancements, the book shows that fashion history should be understood as a global phenomenon, originating well before and beyond the fourteenth century European court, which is continually, and erroneously, cited as fashion’s birthplace.