Clothing the Pacific

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2003-06-01
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
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During the colonial period, Pacific Islanders acceptance of clothing was seen by Europeans as a civilizing sign. In reality, Islanders use of foreign cloth and clothing generally involved translating indigenous preoccupations into new forms of dress. Today, both imported and indigenous cloth feature prominently in Pacific Island exchange, religious practice, clothing, domestic space, public political activity, festivals, and the art and tourist markets. This book sets out to examine the multiple histories of cloth and clothing in the Pacific and to investigate its role in social innovation and resistance from the period of contact to the present day.The past three decades have witnessed the emergence of Pacific fashion stylists as well as cloth producers who, like anthropologists, are acutely aware of how globalization impacts on identity. Typically, their work integrates both Pacific and introduced forms. This book compares these synthetic forms with others that developed in the region during the colonial period, when foreign cloth was typically adapted and incorporated within indigenous textile systems, and shows how cloth is central to the transmission of identity as well as a vehicle for associative thinking. From an analysis of the place of cloth in traditional Tahitian religion, to fashion activism within the diaspora population in New Zealand, Clothing the Pacific provides fascinating insights into the shifting relationship between cloth and social imagination. By tracing the diverse responses to the imposition of dress upon Pacific Islanders, this book profoundly challenges Western assumptions about the place of cloth in culture.

Author Biography

Chlod Colchester is a Research Associate and Research Fellow, at The British Museum, Goldsmiths College and University College London.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Preface xi
List of Contributors
Acknowledgements xv
Introduction 1(24)
Chloe Colchester
Part I Clothing the Body
The Gods Stripped Bare
Alain Babadzan
On Cloth, Gifts and Nudity: Regarding some European Misunderstandings during Early Encounters in Polynesia
Serge Tcherkezoff
Part II Clothing and the Appropriation of Christianity
The Case of the Misplaced Ponchos: Speculations Concerning the History of Cloth in Polynesia
Nicholas Thomas
The Poncho and the Quilt: Material Christianity in the Cook Islands
Susanne Kuchler
Part III Clothing and Agency
Gender, Status and Introduced Clothing in Vanuatu
Lissant Bolton
God's Kingdom in Auckland: Tongan Christian Dress and the Expression of Duty
Ping-Ann Addo
Part IV Clothing in the Diaspora
T-shirts, Translation and Humour: On the Nature of Wearer-Perceiver Relationships in South Auckland
Chloe Colchester
Getting Specific: Pacific Fashion Activism in Auckland during the 1990s
Rosanna Raymond
Index 209

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