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Aesthetics of Blackness? Cloth, Culture, and the African Diasporas

by Christine Checinska

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Setting cloth into the wider context of creolized visual and material culture, this special issue considers the relationship between cloth, culture, and race from the perspective of the African Diasporas across the Caribbean, the United States, West Africa, South Africa, and Britain. The Ghanaian artist El Anatsui captures the importance of cloth’s meaning and function in this context: “the scope of meaning associated with cloth is so wide … [it] is to the African what monuments are to Westerners” (Anatsui 2003). Whilst having practical uses, cloth plays a significant role in ritual whether everyday or ceremonial, secular or spiritual. It becomes saturated with cultural meaning and memory as crafting techniques and family keepsakes are passed from one generation to the next.

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