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Stitched Together, Torn Apart: The Keffiyeh As Cultural Guide

by Evan Renfro

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“While the political and cultural importance of the keffiyeh, as well as its attendant commodification as a fashion accessory in the West, is established, this article seeks to analyze the precise theoretical coordinates of this cultural artifact’s affective power, and its relationship to current politico-cultural trends. That is, we know what cultural work the keffiyeh does, but here we show how that work is carried out, its theoretical underpinnings, and its implications for better understanding the interrelationship between current events, the ideological, and the cultural. Symbolic interactionism, along with affect theory, are leveraged as tools to answer these questions of serious and timely political importance. Indeed, the keffiyeh is used here as the theoretical vehicle that may elucidate the broader implications for cultural studies internationally.”

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