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Fashion Tales

Feeding the Imaginary

Edited By Emanuela Mora and Marco Pedroni

Since its beginnings in the middle of the 19th century, fashion has been narrated through multiple media, both visual and verbal, and for such different purposes as marketing and advertising, art, costume history, social research and cultural dissemination. In this light, fashion has represented an important piece of material culture in modern industrial urban societies and in postcolonial and non-western contexts. Today, we are witnessing a turn in this imaginary as issues related to social, environmental and cultural sustainability come to predominate in many areas of human activity.
The book addresses this challenge. By facilitating encounters between disciplines and cultures, it explores a multitude of fashion issues, practices and views that feed the contemporary fashion imaginary: local cultures, linguistic codes, TV series, movies, magazines, ads, blogs, bodily practices. The book deals with a paramount issue for fashion studies: how do the production and circulation of fashion imaginary come about in the 21st century?

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Performing authenticity through fashion: Sartorial contestations of Hindu-Guyanese Indianness and the creation of the Indian ‘other’ (Sinah Theres Kloß)


Sinah Theres Kloß

Performing authenticity through fashion: Sartorial contestations of Hindu-­Guyanese Indianness and the creation of the Indian ‘other’


During a Navratri celebration in New York City, conducted by Guyanese Hindu immigrants in the living room of a pandit (priest) in March 2012, about thirty to forty people were sitting on the floor of this small but elaborate temporary mandir (temple). Most members of the congregation had migrated from the same region in Guyana as the pandit and were attending this service largely because they had known him or another member prior to their migration. The pandit announced that it was time for kanya puja, the veneration of the nine forms of the Goddess Durga, a mandatory part of the Navratri celebrations. Nine girls were lined up in front of the altar, facing the audience, adorned in rich and heavily ornamented Indian-­style clothing, mostly shalwars and lahenges.1 The pandit announced that they were to be venerated as Mother Durga, and they received, amongst other things, small gift bags during this veneration. I was part of the congregation on behalf of the anthropological study and the ‘multi-­sited ethnography’ (Marcus 1995) that I conducted between 2011 and 2013 for over a period of nine months. In both Guyana and New York, I engaged in ethnographic fieldwork consisting of participant observation and ethnographic interviews. I was analysing how exchange and consumption processes involving clothing (re)create transnational communities and families,←327 | 328→ and...

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