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The Anthropology of Dress

Article  in  Dress · January 2000

DOI: 10.1179/036121100803656954


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Joanne Eicher
University of Minnesota Twin Cities


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The Journal of the Costume Society of America

ISSN: 0361-2112 (Print) 2042-1729 (Online) Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/ydre20

The Anthropology of Dress

Joanne B. Eicher

To cite this article: Joanne B. Eicher (2000) The Anthropology of Dress, Dress, 27:1, 59-70, DOI:

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Download by: [University of Minnesota Libraries, Twin Cities] Date: 14 June 2016, At: 09:26
Joanne B. Eicher

Since beginning to study the use, branches of the human sciences, all of
The Anthropology significance, and meaning of dress, I have which could claim to be studying people in
one way or another. Medicine is concerned
of Dress been intrigued with the wide variety of
disciplines such as art history, history, with the workings of the human body,
psychology with those of the mind, history
anthropology, sociology, folklore,
studies people's activities in the past,
philosophy, economics, and women's sociology their institutional arrangements
studies that contribute to the topic of in the present, and so on. The list could be
dress. I am also amazed by the insularity extended almost indefinitely. What then, is
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of many scholars who do not venture the distinctively anthropological way of

beyond the boundaries of their studying people?4
disciplines when accessing bibliographic
sources for their own research. Thus, I Holism
have chosen to highlight anthropology
Ingold answers his question by stating
because I suspect that the scope of
that this distinction is partially a result
writing in that discipline may come as
of the importance of anthropology's
a surprise to many scholars writing
subfields, for they give anthropology
about dress (and perhaps even to many
the gift of holism. The four subfields
anthropologists who would not expect
interconnect the biological, social,
the topic to exist).1 Anthropology
historical and cultural dimensions of
contributes scholarship that relates
human life that might otherwise be
to understanding the place of dress in
divided among several disciplines.s
culture, and I define the anthropology
This commitment to holism is the first
of dress simply as the study of dress
contribution of anthropology to the
study of dress; holism forces us to look
In this article, I concentrate on
at dressing the body within a larger
published writings in English from
sociocultural context of such factors as
anthropologists and exclude other
kinship, the political economy, lack or
writings even though they may have an
presence of hierarchy, and ideological
"anthropological approach."3 I highlight
belief systems.
four aspects of anthropology (holism,
culture, fieldwork, and women's Culture
involvement) that have contributed to the
study of dress. I follow this with a The second contribution of anthropology
chronological survey of published works is the concept of culture with its obvious
on dress by anthropologists, both articles implication of cultural diversity. Culture,
and books, from the roots of the field at as an idea or theory, has been thoroughly
the end of the nineteenth century scrutinized over the years. One example
through 1999. is the mid-twentieth century book by
Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn,
Contributions from titled Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts
Anthropology for and Definitions, in which they analyzed
Studying Dress and categorized 164 definitions.6 A more
recent one is Culture: The Anthropologists'
Anthropologists study human behavior, Account by Adam Kuper.7 Culture as an
or as Tim Ingold says in the Companion idea is about how human beings teach
Encyclopedia of Anthropology: and learn "proper conduct" within a
Joanne B. Eicher is Regents' Professor in the Anthropologists study people ... [but] it is specific setting. Through language and
Department of Design, Housing, and not so obvious how-if at all, anthropology role models, humans learn how to
Apparel at the University of Minnesota. may be distinguished from the many other behave from other human beings, and

DRESS 2000 Volume 27 59

this transmission of knowledge carries
across generations. Thus, culture and
history are closely intertwined, for we
are taught how to behave; we are not
programmed genetically. We learn to
wear fur or feathers (or to despise or
avoid wearing them); we are not born
with them. Furthermore, we can decide
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to change our minds or be persuaded to

change our minds about wearing or not
wearing them. By accepting the idea that
culture is about teaching and learning
flproper conduct" within a specific
setting, we can learn about cultural
diversity. We see that other people do
not live by our rules. flOur ways" of
learning how to treat family, friends and
neighbors or about what to wear and not
to wear and how to sit and stand can be
Figure 1. Detail, Trobriand women from Bronislaw Malinowski's Argonauts of the Western
completely different from others. They
Pacific (1922).
can feel as strongly about the rightness
of their choices as we feel about the
rightness of ours. Thus, the concepts of with learning the indigenous words and anthropologists been recognized for their
culture and cultural diversity are phrases that define actual items of dress work.13 In Women Writing Culture, Ruth
important contributions from and related practices, allows a more Behar chides Clifford and Marcus for
anthropology in analyzing the meaning thorough understanding of what I call the the overwhelming absence of women
of dress. "complex act of dress.fl9 contributors in Writing Culture: The Poetics
and Politics of Ethnography and declares
Fieldwork Women's Involvement that the contributions of Elsie Clews
Parsons (1875-1941) qualify her to be
A third contribution from anthropology A fourth contribution of anthropology is designated the flmother" of American
is fieldwork. This contribution is women's involvement. When reading anthropology.14 Heightened interest in
attributed to Bronislaw Malinowski who early histories of many disciplines, one the contributions of women and gender
is known for his extended research in might assume that only men, especially issues have become important in the
the Trobriand Islands from 1914 to 1918 white men, made contributions to any anthropology of dress. Biological
(Figure 1).8 As most anthropologists given field. A surge of interest in many differences are socially interpreted
agree, this process of living among a disciplines about women's involvement in categories that provoke strong cultural
group and learning the indigenous the sciences and humanities exposes interpretations related to dress; clearly,
language is necessary for real women's early contributions to in the following chronological review,
understanding of human behavior in anthropology. 10Most interestingly, Franz more women than men have chosen
another culture. Fieldwork allows us to Boas wrote in 1920 to a colleague: "1 have to study dress.
observe people firsthand and become had a curious experience: All my best
engaged with them in order to graduate students are women.flll In fact, Chronological Survey
understand and interpret their behavior during Boas's tenure at Columbia
rather than relying on the observations University, over twenty women received I present a comprehensive, but not
and comments of others. The practice of doctoral degrees, the majority of them exhaustive, bibliographic survey of
fieldwork is shared by researchers in doing fieldwork in the Southwest.12 anthropologists who write on dress, in
other disciplines; the direct observation However, as in other disciplines, only in English, from the discipline's inception
of dress and associated behavior, along the last twenty-five years have women through 1999, a period of approximately

60 DRESS 2000
125 years. This survey emerges from my anthropology often designated as the Crawley saw no area of the study of
own extensive library and from searching flcurio cabinet" stage. At that time, both dress and the body as off-limits. He
additional works cited in bibliographies. facts about and artifacts from other scrutinized dress of the dead and
However, certain areas still need peoples of the world were gathered by mourning dress with vivid examples of
systematic plumbing, such as the early travelers and then studied by various customs, topics generally
ethnographies from the American anthropologists who rarely conducted avoided or ignored in later work. As
Southwest and careful searching of field research. Two well-known names, modern medicine contributes to longer
specific area studies such as Latin Sir Edward Burnett Tylor and Sir James life spans, death is not always sad and
America and Asia.ls Since my intent is to
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Frazer, along with Ernest Crawley, sudden, for dress can playa part in death
expose the continuous thread of epitomize this phase.16Crawley and dying and provide clues to
anthropological research and writing on considered dress and its importance to understanding human values and key
dress, I concentrate on providing brief humans in detail by writing a lengthy family relationships.21 Another area little
descriptions of the written works and not essay titled flDress" in 1912 for the pursued since his essay is that of nudity
a thematic classification. Encyclopedia of Religion (later reprinted in and dress. Crawley declared: flWhen
The first publications on the topic of a volume titled Dress, Drinks, and Drums: clothing is firmly established as a
dress appeared during the late Further Studies of Savages and Sex).17 (See permanent social habit, temporary
nineteenth century, a time in Figure 2.) Supported by cross-cultural nudity is the most violent negation
examples, his discussion developed possible of the clothed state."22 His
various theories about the origins of observation is still intriguing and worthy
Figure 2. Ernest Crawley's title page from dress and astutely concluded: of research, for there are many instances
Dress, Drinks, and Drums: Further Studies flSpeculation alone is possible when where temporary nudity or stripping
of Savages and Sex (1931). dealing with the genesis of dress."18 oneself of clothing is considered violently
Noteworthy sections of his essay antisocial. However, in our contemporary
included dress symbolism, the social Euro-American world, public near-nudity
psychology of dress, nakedness and or what I have called the display of

dress, dress and social grade (or dress skin,"23 particularly for younger women,
through the life course), sexual dress, and seems to be newsworthy and attention
sacred dress. However, much of getting.24 Crawley noted the importance
Crawley's writing smacked of the social of global exchange at the time he wrote,
evolutionism popular in that era as found which diminishes any ethnocentric idea
in his usage of words such as savages."
/I we may have that globalization is a
Also typical of his time, he was recent phenomenon:
insensitive to concerns about gender.
A remarkable tendency is observable at the
Shortcomings aside, Crawley keenly
present day, which is due to increased
observed the use of dress in social and
facilities of travel and inter-communication,
cultural terms: towards a cosmopolitan type of dress,
The great bifurcation of dress is sexual.19 European in form.25

[D]ress is the most distinctive expression The curio cabinet period of

in a material form of the various grades of anthropology stretched into what is
social life. The biological period thus acknowledged as the fieldwork era
becomes a social period of existence.2° begun by Malinowski. However,
The cross-cultural and cross-temporal fieldwork by women anthropologists in
implications of his generalizations the Southwest flourished at the turn of
anticipated our continued research and the century. As one example, Alice
analysis. Indeed, gendered dress is Fletcher worked with Francis La Flesche,
ubiquitous and becomes salient in an Omaha Indian man, to publish a
socializing and enculturating children voluminous work on the Omaha in 1911
into adulthood. that included analyzing the significance

DRESS 2000 Volume 27 61

Figure 3. Alice Fletcher and Francis La Flesche
analyzed the meaning communicated in the
various types of wrappings within Omaha dress
practices in "The Omaha Tribe" (1911).

of different ways of wearing and

wrapping garments (Figure 3).26In
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another example, Matilda Coxe

Stevenson reported her findings on
Pueblo Indian dress.27
Alfred Kroeber took a different
approach to the anthropology of dress
by exploring the concept of order in that
early period. He measured women's
evening gowns from 1844 through 1919
and concluded that "regularity in social
change" exists, and later conducted
similar research with Jane Richardson in
1940.28His devotion to the idea of
anthropology as a science and his use of
quantitative research also importantly
contributed to the study of dress.
Alfred Radcliffe-Brown's early
research on the body decoration practices
of the Andaman Islanders was an
example of the fieldwork approach and
structural-functional analysis. He
interpreted these practices as a desire
for protection and display, marking
"the relation of the individual to the
society and to that force or power in the
society to which he owes his well-being
and happiness."29
Although fieldwork was firmly
established in anthropology by the 1930s,
the three anthropologists who wrote
entries for the Encyclopedia of the Social
Sciences, Ruth Benedict on "Dress," Ruth
Bunzel on "Ornament," and Edward
Sapir on "Fashion," included some
armchair theorizing divorced from
fieldwork about such topics as origins
and functions.30Some apt observations
emerged, such as Sapir's statement that
"Fashion is custom in the guise of
departure from custom."31
Many ethnographies through the
1960s included a chapter or section

62 DRESS 2000
describing dress, no doubt influenced by interest, Sidney M. Mead, a Maori, symbolic, functional or ritual ones. Faris
the then-bible of fieldwork, Notes and chose the topic as his focus in Traditional concluded:
Queries on Anthropology, that instructed Maori Clothing.38 He worked from a
researchers about what data to collect on structural-functional perspective and The principal exercise is the celebration and
the topic.32Mongol Costumes in 1950 is gave a detailed analysis of the various exposure of the strong and healthy body.
possibly the first European ethnography forms of Maori clothing and changes And it is probably in the concern with
on dress published in English.33Henny over time, perhaps the first indigenous health that we find the material origin of the
art tradition. A paramount emphasis of this
Harald Hansen, a Danish anthropologist, ethnography of dress in English written
study is that aesthetics stem from material
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combined her talents as a painter, tailor's by a trained anthropologist.39 His book origins and are not independently existing
cutter in Paris, and anthropologist to foreshadowed many publications that ideas.44
analyze 400 items that had been collected followed in the next three decades with
on expeditions in the 1930s to Mongolia a variety of thematic theoretical Hilda Kuper, in a thoughtful article
by Henning Haslund-Christensen, a perspectives arising in the discipline titled "Costume and Identity,"
Danish explorer. She meticulously almost simultaneously (such as semiotics, documented clothing as a symbol of
measured, described and assessed each symbolism, reflexivity, gender studies, social differentiation in Swaziland with
item according to an earlier scheme Marxism, and interpretivism).40 examples of the conflicts that emerged
developed by Gudmund Hatt on Arctic In the early 1970s,two monographs, when Western ideas of fashion were
skin dress to provide exemplary again apparently sidelines of original introduced into the seemingly traditional
documentation and a theoretical field research, appeared. One is scene.45In 1978,two books by Ted
perspective for understanding the Self-Decoration in Mount Hagen by Polhemus, one on the body and another
production and use of garments in Andrew and Marilyn Strathern, and (with Lynn Proctor) entitled Fashion
another cultural setting.34In addition, the other Nuba Personal Art by James and Anti-Fashion: An Anthropology of
her analysis and the excellent color Faris.4lThe Strathern book, with Clothing and Adornment, forecast his
photographs of the 1983edition of exquisite detail, dwells on the "primary continuing dedication to the study of
various ensembles inspire ideas for emphasis which Hageners place on the dressed body.46
top-notch museum displays. adorning their own bodies."42They In 1979, The Decorated Body by Robert
In the 1950s and 1960s,four examples provided examples of body painting, Brain and Fabrics of Culture: An
emerged that analyzed the meaning of feathered headdress, wigs and tally Anthropology of Dress, co-edited by Justine
dress, rather than merely describing it. marker necklaces worn in festivals, Cordwell and Ronald Schwarz, were
Paul Bohannon's article, "Beauty and which they related to two central values published.47 The first stressed the
Scarification amongst the Tiv," came of Hagen society-the first, clan multitude of body modifications around
from his research in Nigeria and solidarity and prestige; the second, the world, anticipating the outpouring of
documented changing fashions in individual wealth and well-being. The books in the 1990s on body piercing and
scarring, but also pointed out that the Stratherns summarized as follows: tattooing by a wide variety of popular
tactile sensations resulting from scarring writers. In the second, Cordwell and
carry significance in intimate Dances themselves provide an opportunity Schwarz introduced their book by
interactions.35 Simon Messing analyzed for demonstrating both clan solidarity and declaring that anthropologists" are
the detailed meaning associated with individual excellence ... [for] the prestige relatively silent about the meaning and
of the clan coincides with that of its
different ways of wrapping garments in function of dress and adornment ... [but]
members. It is themselves that they
Ethiopia in "The Non-Verbal Language In contrast, the natives (sic) who are the
decorate, for it is through men's personal
of the Ethiopian Toga" and Robert achievements that renown is brought to subject of our queries are generally
Murphy, the use of the veil by Tuareg them and their clan alike. 43 cognizant of how they and others are
men, not women, in "Social Distance and dressed."48Their volume also anticipated
the Veil."36Terrence Turner scrutinized Faris's research on the Nuba offered the flurry of publications on the
the significance of body painting different findings. Body painting, oiling, anthropology of dress that continues into
practices within the social structure of and hair design are carried out by the the twenty-first century. Thirteen of the
Brazil's Tchikrin people.37 Southeastern Nuba of Sudan, a classless twenty-three authors came from
In contrast to the above examples in society, primarily for aesthetic reasons to disciplines other than anthropology,
which dress appeared to be a sideline show off the body, rather than for acknowledging that theoretical,

DRESS 2000 Volume 27 63

comparative, and ethnographic Schevill's Maya Textiles of Guatemala in Sidewalk to Catwalk provoked interest in
approaches arose from a wide academic which she analyzed the 252 textiles the contemporary" styletribes" of the
world and encompassed a wide range collected by Gustavus Eisen in 1902 for United Kingdom and the United States.61
of cultures. the Phoebe Hearst Museum of Thoughtful articles on dress in the 1990s
The 1980s began with Patricia Anthropology.55 She supplemented his included those by Karen Hansen on
Anawalt's work on late pre-Hispanic and collection notes with data from her own second-hand clothing in Zambia and by
MesoAmerican dress as analyzed from Guatemalan fieldwork. Carol Joseph Nevadomsky on dress and
the Aztec codices in Mexico.49In 1983, Hendrickson supplied a perspective of identity in Benin.62Several editors
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Liza Dalby included a chapter on kimono contemporary Guatemalan dress in narrowed their volumes to one area or
in her book on Geisha.50 And in 1989, Weaving Identities: Construction of Dress continent of the world. For example, in
three books added momentum to and Self in a Highland Guatemala Town.56 Clothing and Difference: Embodied
publications. Annette Weiner and Jane Her rationale for studying Guatemalan Identities in Colonial and Post-Colonial
Schneider co-edited Cloth and Human dress typified the intent of several of the Africa, the authors emphasized the
Experience, another interdisciplinary authors of the 1990s regarding a focus on interplay of indigenous forms of African
volume with four of the eleven dress as part of material culture: dress and Western influences.63
contributors being non-anthropologists.51 Languages of Dress in the Middle East
Although this volume focused on cloth, The material world must be understood as included nine diverse ethnographic
a cultural system, that objects reflect a
the works of several contributors papers on this regional area.64Outward
wealth of cultural categories, and that
centered on the role of clothing, such as Appearances: Dressing State and Society in
meaningful patterns relate all "objects"
the chapter by Gillian Feeley-Harnik on with a cultural universe.57 Indonesia assessed many facets of
how Malagasy dress separated the living Indonesian dress history and
from the dead, and Bernard Cohn's Also in 1993, Liza Dalby in her book contemporary life.65Judith Perani and
chapter on the role of attire in nineteenth Kimono delved into the history and use of Norma Wolff concentrated primarily on
century colonial India.52The other two kimono and style changes and stated that Nigerian examples in Cloth, Dress, and
books undergirded Museum of Mankind the Japanese perceived the kimono as a Art Patronage in Africa.66 Beauty Queens on
exhibits in London. One was by Michael primary form of clothing only after the Global Stage: Gender, Contests and
O'Hanlon, Reading the Skin: Adornment, contact with the Western world, from Power focused on the Western
Display and Society among the Wahgi, 1868 onward.58 Sandra Niessen, in Batak phenomenon of the beauty pageant now
based on his fieldwork in Papua New Cloth and Clothing: A Dynamic Indonesian popular all over the world, with obvious
Guinea, which resulted in an exhibit Tradition, analyzed the dynamics of how implications about body and dress.67 In
titled "Paradise."53 Shelagh Weir's Malay-Muslim, Christian missionary, addition, anthropologists contributed
outstanding book Palestinian Costume also and European colonial dress influenced chapters to Dress and Gender by Barnes
accompanied an exhibit of the same and changed the dress of nineteenth- and Eicher, Dress and Ethnicity by Eicher,
name.54 She emphasized that her initial century Bataks in the highlands of north and Beads and Bead Makers: Gender,
assumptions of "one village, one style" central Sumatra.59 Through these Material Culture and Meaning by Sciama
and a contrast of traditional and modern examples, the authors recognized that and Eicher. 68
dress were not upheld. She narrowed her "ethnic" dress begins when group Single-authored books also appeared,
research site to one village known for its members compare and contrast their such as Polhemus's Style Surfing: What to
fashion leadership in the Jaffa region, dress to that of others. Wear in the Third Millennium and Emma
Beit Dajan. She discovered that change In From the Land of the Thunder Dragon: Tarlo's work on Gujarat in Clothing
occurred in so-called traditional dress. Textile Arts of Bhutan, Diana Myers and Matters: Dress and Identity in India.69 Cloth
Many books by anthropologists appeared Susan Bean also documented through an That Does Not Die by Elisha Renne
in the 1990s-ethnographic monographs exhibit that the textiles used in Bhutan developed the argument that the making
that stemmed from field research "are an evolving art and have been for and wearing of cloth by the Bunu
centering on dress as well as edited centuries, changing as their role in Yoruba paralleled changing conditions
volumes that supplied cross-cultural and Bhutanese life has evolved."60 Similarly, in modern Nigeria, for the use of
single-culture examples. Substantial Ted Polhemus's catalog that handwoven cloth continued even
publications on dress from museum accompanied the Victoria and Albert though production dwindled
exhibits continued, as shown in Margot Museum exhibit titled Streetstyle: From markedly.70 In 1997, Dorinne Kondo

64 DRESS 2000
deconstructed gender, race and
"Orientalism" in About Face: Performing
Race in Fashion and Theater.71 Michaele
Haynes scrutinized an elite ritual of
dress in Dressing Up Debutantes:
Pageantry and Glitz in Texas (Figure 4).72
Fadwa El Guindi, in Veil: Modesty,
Privacy and Resistance, provided another
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breakthrough in untangling some of

the multifaceted aspects of covering
the head, the face and/ or body (Figure
5).73 In these volumes, the writers
developed new interpretations about
meaning and the place of dress in
negotiating identity, moving from
analysis of a bounded culture to
focusing on global interconnections.74
Gendered craft production within a
global market was another major and
rich theme that arose in the 1990s.Two
Latin American examples included Kuna
Crafts, Gender, and the Global Economy by
Karin Tice, and Crafts in the World
Market: The Impact of Global Exchange on
Middle American Artisans, an edited
volume by June Nash.75 While these two
works focused on the production and
exchange of textiles such as Kuna mola Figure 4. Michaele Haynes's book cover for
appliques or Guatemalan backstrap- Dressing Up Debutantes: Pageantry and
loom-woven textiles, they also analyzed Glitz in Texas (1998).
the use of these textiles as dress. For
example, Robert Carlsen illustrated that usually published as books rather than as
textile production becomes an important catalog lists, permit the idea of the exhibit
aspect of culture in contemporary to live beyond the exhibit itself. These
highland Guatemala; a multiplicity of exhibits extend knowledge into public
ethnic identities are constructed through communities-at-Iarge, beyond the
the use of these textiles as dress.76 academic "ivory towers."
The role of museums and work by
anthropologists in museum settings Conclusion
needs acknowledgement. Mounting
exhibits of artifacts collected from or In the above survey of writings in English
based on field research enriches viewers' by anthropologists on dress, the four
visual experience and knowledge. An contributions (holism, culture, fieldwork,
exhibit provides opportunities to and women's involvement) I attribute to
experience the impact of both single anthropology are virtually self-evident.
items and total ensembles of dress by Throughout the writings, the concept of
seeing the color, silhouette and materials holism is paramount: dress is analyzed, Figure 5. Fadwa El Guindi's book cover for
used from culture to culture. The as part of a larger configuration of human Veil: Modesty, Privacy and Resistance
accompanying museum publications, behavior of a specific people in a (1999).

DRESS 2000 Volume 27 65

specified time and place. The culture of colleges as "Home Economics," based Daughters of the Desert: Women
specific people in relation to their habits on a concern with solving problenls of Anthropologists and the Native American
of dress is also analyzed, with cultural everyday life and improving the Southwest (Albuquerque: University of
diversity in dress from group to group human condition. Scholars from this New Mexico, 1988);Nancy J. Parezo,
becoming readily apparent. Fieldwork as background center on textiles and ed., Hidden Scholars: Women
a method of collecting data encouraged clothing as subject matter, just as dress Anthropologists and the Native American
rich descriptions and analyses of the historians and museum curators do. In Southwest (Albuquerque: University of
many variations and permutations of contrast, anthropologists focus New Mexico Press, 1993);Ruth Behar
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meanings attached to dress. The generally on human beings as and Deborah A. Gordon, eds., Women
exceptions to fieldwork-based analyses sociocultural animals and study dress Writing Culture (Berkeley and Los
are limited to such examples as those in from that perspective. I want to thank Angeles: University of California Press,
the curio-cabinet stage and the essays my research assistants, Susan J. 1995);Sherry B. Ortner, Making Gender:
written by Benedict, Bunzel, and Sapir. Torntore and Theresa M. Winge, for The Politics and Erotics of Culture
The role of women in anthropology, their their help, and Helen Callaway, Lidia (Boston: Beacon Press, 1996).
attention to gender issues and interest in Sciama, Linda Welters, and the four 11 Babcock and Parezo, Daughters of the
the topic of dress has resulted in more anonymous reviewers who made Desert, 2.
research and publications on the topic by thoughtful and useful suggestions. 12 Ibid.
women than by men. For example, the 2 I arbitrarily define" anthropologists" 13 Books such as Michelle Rosaldo and
majority of books noted above from 1989 as individuals either with degrees in Louise Lamphere's Woman, Culture and
to 1999 were written, co-authored or co- anthropology or who identify Society (Stanford: Stanford University
edited by women. Women's sensitivity themselves as such. Press, 1974)were strategically written
and attention to the topic of dress fairly 3 The topic will be greatly enhanced by a and titled to offset Harry L. Shapiro's
obviously stems from the subcultural survey of anthropological writings in Man, Culture and Society (New York:
milieu of women and their frequent other languages. Oxford University Press, 1956).Shirley
involvement in, concern and care for 4 Tim Ingold, Companion Encyclopedia of Ardener's edited volumes Defining
their own and others' dress. Anthropology (London: Routledge, Females: The Nature of Women in Society
The history of the anthropology of 1994),xiii. (New York: John Wiley and Sons,
dress mirrors the history of anthropology 5 Ibid., xv. 1975), Perceiving Women (New York:
itself, proceeding from cross-cultural 6 Alfred L. Kroeber and Clyde John Wiley and Sons, 1975),and
examples from the curio-cabinet era to Kluckhohn, Culture: A Critical Review of Women and Space: Ground Rules and
in-depth interpretive studies of one Concepts and Definitions (New York: Social Maps (1981;reprint, Oxford and
culture. A thread of agreement runs Vintage Books, 1952). New York: Berg, 1997),with Jackie
through these books and articles in that 7 Adam Kuper, Culture: The Waldren, are other examples.
dress is presented as an effective Anthropologists' Account (Cambridge, 14 Behar and Gordon, Women Writing
communication system about personal Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999). Culture; James Clifford and George E.
and sociocultural identities. 8 Bronislaw Malinowski, Argonauts of the Marcus, eds., Writing Culture: The
Western Pacific (London: G. Routledge Poetics and Politics of Ethnography
& Sons, Ltd., 1922). (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University
1 This paper was first written for 9 Joanne B. Eicher, "Dress, Identity, of California Press, 1986), 17.
presentation as a Distinguished Scholar Culture, and Choice: The Complex Act 15 My knowledge of African sources may
Lecture at the 1999 International Textile of Dress," in Proceedings of the be the most complete at this writing.
and Apparel Association meeting. In International Textile and Apparel 16 Sir Edward Burnett Tylor, Primitive
my introduction, I commented on my Association (Monument, Colo.: Culture: Researches into the Development
perception of a significant difference International Textile and Apparel of Mythology, Philosophy, Religion, Art,
between the goals of textiles and Association, 1995),8-11. and Custom (1873;reprint, New York:
clothing scholars and the goals of 10 Ute Gacs, Women Anthropologists: A Harper, 1958);Sir James G. Frazer, The
anthropologists in studying dress. The Biographical Dictionary (New York: Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and
interdisciplinary field of textiles and Greenwood Press, 1988);Barbara A. Religion (1890;reprint, New York:
clothing originated in the U.S. in Babcock and Nancy J. Parezo, Macmillan, 1998).

66 DRESS 2000
17 Ernest Crawley, uDress," in Anthropologist 21 (1919): 235-63; Alfred Natural History 78, no. 8 (1969): 50-59; 70.
Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, ed. Kroeber and Jane Richardson, uThree 38 Sidney Moko Mead, Traditional Maori
James Hastings (New York: Charles Centuries of Women's Dress Fashion: Clothing (Wellington: A. H. and A. W.
Scribner's Sons, 1912),40-72; Ernest A Quantitative Analysis," Reed, 1969).
Crawley, Dress, Drinks, and Drums: Anthropological Records 5, no. 2 (1940): 39 Although Petr Bogatyrev, a Slovak,

Further Studies of Savages and Sex 111-53. wrote Functions of Folk Costume in
(London: Methuen and Co., Ltd., 1931). 29 Alfred R. Radcliffe-Brown, The Moravian Slovakia in 1937, the original
18 Crawley, Dress, Drinks, and Drums, 2. Andaman Islander: A Study in was published in Slovak and only
became available in English in 1971,
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19 Ibid., 54. Anthropology (Cambridge, Mass.: The

20 Ibid., 117. Harvard University Press, 1922), 319. when it was translated by Richard Crum.
21 For example, a hospice nurse told me 30 Ruth Benedict, uDress," in Encyclopedia 40 See Alan Barnard, History and Theory in
that her terminal patients were willing of the Social Sciences, 235-37; Ruth Anthropology (London: Routledge, 2000)
and eager to discuss what they wanted Bunzel, uOrnament," in Encyclopedia of for an appreciation of the development
to wear in the coffin. the Social Sciences, 496-97; Edward of the many orientations and analytical
22 Crawley, Dress, Drinks, and Drums, Sapir, uFashion," in Encyclopedia of the approaches.
111-12. Social Sciences, 139-44 (New York: 41 Andrew 5trathern and Marilyn
23 Joanne B. Eicher, uDress, Gender, and Macmillan, 1931). Strathern, Self-Decoration on Mount Hagen
the Public Display of Skin," in Dress 31 Sapir, uFashion," 140. (London: Gerald Duckworth and Co.,
and the Embodied Self, eds. Elizabeth 32 Committee of the Royal Ltd., 1972); James Faris, Nuba Personal
Wilson and Joanne Entwhistle (Oxford Anthropological Institute of Great Art (London: Gerald Duckworth and
and New York: Berg, forthcoming in Britain and Ireland, Notes and Queries Co., Ltd., 1971).
2001). on Anthropology (1874; 6th ed., reprint, 42 Strathern and Strathern, Self-Decoration

24 Examples include movie star and London: Routledge and Kegan Ltd., on Mount Hagen, 1.
model Elizabeth Hurley at the 1960). One example of following the 43 Ibid., 173.

Academy Awards (1994) in Versace's Notes and Queries format is Allan R. 44 Faris, Nuba Personal Art, 114.

safety-pin dress; rap artist Lil' Kim at Holmberg, Nomads of the Long Bow: The 45 Hilda Kuper, "Costume and Identity,"

the MTV Video Music Awards (1999) Siriono of Eastern Bolivia (Washington, Comparative Studies in Society and History
in a jumper, of her own design, that D. C.: U. S. Government Print Office, 15, no. 3 (1973): 348-67.
exposed one breast; and movie star 1950). 46 Ted Polhemus, ed., The Body Reader:
and pop artist Jennifer Lopez at the 33 Henny Harald Hansen, Mongol Social Aspects of the Human Body (New
Grammy Awards (2000) in Versace's Costumes (1950; reprint, London: York: Pantheon, 1978); Ted Polhemus
transparent and open below the navel Thames and Hudson, 1983). and Lynn Proctor, Fashion and Anti-
dress. 34 Gudmund Hatt, Arktiske Skinddragter i Fashion: An Anthropology of Clothing and
25 Crawley, Dress, Drinks, and Drums, 172. Eurasien og Amerika (Copenhagen: J. H. Adornment (London: Thames and
26 Alice Fletcher and Francis La Flesche, Schultz, 1914); an English edition, Hudson, 1978).
uThe Omaha Tribe," in Twenty-Seventh Arctic Skin Clothing in Eurasia and 47 Robert Brain, The Decorated Body
Annual Report of the Bureau of American America, was published in 1969. (London: Hutchinson, 1979); Justine M.
Ethnology to the Secretary of the 35 Paul Bohannan, uBeauty and Cordwell and Ronald A. Schwarz, eds.,
Smithsonian Institution, 1905-1906 Scarification amongst the Tiv," Man 56 The Fabrics of Culture: The Anthropology of
(Washington, D.C.: Government (September 1956): 117-21. Clothing and Adornment (The Hague:
Printing Office, 1911): 17-672. 36 Simon D. Messing, uThe N on-Verbal Mouton Publishers, 1979).
27 Matilda Coxe Stevenson, Dress and Language of the Ethiopian Toga," 48 Cordwell and Schwarz, Fabrics of Culture, 1.
Adornment of the Pueblo Indians, Ms. No. Anthropos 55, nos. 3-4 (1960): 558-60; 49 Patricia Rieff Anawalt, Indian Clothing
2093, Bureau of American Ethnology Robert Murphy, uSocial Distance and Before Cortes: MesoAmerican Costumes
Archives. (Washington D.C.: National the Veil," American Anthropologist 66, from the Codices (Norman: University of
Anthropological Archives, 1911). no. 6 (1964): 1257-74. Oklahoma Press, 1981).
28 Alfred L. Kroeber, UOn the Principle of 37 Terrence Turner, "Tchikrin: A Central 50 Liza C. Dalby, Geisha (Berkeley and Los
Order in Civilization as Exemplified by Brazilian Tribe and Its Symbolic Angeles: University of California Press,
Changes of Fashion," The American Language of Bodily Adornment," 1983).

DRESS 2000 Volume 27 67

51 Annette B. Weiner and Jane Meanings: Used Clothing Practices in Press, 1995).
Schneider, eds., Cloth and Human Lusaka," Journal of Southern African 71 Dorinne K. Kondo, About Face:
Experience (Washington, D.C.: Studies 21, no. 1 (1995): 131-45; Karen Performing Race in Fashion and Theater
Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989). Hansen, "Other People's Clothes? The (New York: Routledge, 1997).
52 Gillian Feeley-Harnik, "Cloth and the International Second-hand Clothing 72 Michaele Thurgood Haynes, Dressing
Creation of Ancestors in Madagascar," Trade and Dress Practices in Zambia," Up Debutantes: Pageantry and Glitz in
in Weiner and Schneider, Cloth and Fashion Theory 4, no. 3 (2000): 245-76; Texas (Oxford and New York: Berg,
Human Experience, 73-116; and B. S. Joseph Nevadomsky, "The Clothing of 1998).
Cohn, "Cloth, Clothes and Political Identity: Costume and Fadwa El Guindi, Veil: Modesty, Privacy
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Colonialism: India in the Nineteenth Scarification in the Benin Kingdom," and Resistance (Oxford and New York:
Century," in Weiner and Schneider, African Arts (winter 1995): 62-73, 100. Berg, 1999).
Cloth and Human Experience, 301-355. 63 Hildi Hendrickson, ed., Clothing and 74 A detailed discussion, not possible
53 Michael O'Hanlon, Reading the Skin: Difference: Embodied Identities in Colonial within the space constraints of an
Adornment, Display, and Society among and Post-Colonial Africa (Durham, N.C.: article, will be forthcoming in a book
the Wahgi (London: British Museum Duke University Press, 1996). underway with the working title The
Publications, 1989); Paradise: Portraying 64 Nancy Lindisfame-Tapper and Bruce Anthropology of Dress (Oxford and New
the New Guinea Highlands (London: Ingham, eds., Languages of Dress in the York: Berg).
British Museum Press, 1993). Middle East (Surrey, England: Curzon, 75 Karen E. Tice, Kuna Crafts, Gender, and
54 Shelagh Weir, Palestinian Costume 1997). the Global Economy (Austin: University
(London: British Museum 65 Henk Schulte Nordholt, Outward of Texas Press, 1995); June Nash, ed.,
Publications, 1989). Appearances: Dressing State and Society in Crafts in the World Market: The Impact of
55 Margot Schevill, Maya Textiles of Indonesia (Leiden: KITLV Press, 1997). Global Exchange on Middle American
Guatemala (Austin: University of Texas 66 Judith Perani and Norma H. Wolff, Artisans (Albany: State University of
Press, 1992). Cloth, Dress and Art Patronage in Africa New York, 1993).
56 Carol Hendrickson, Weaving Identities: (Oxford and New York: Berg, 1999). 76 Robert S. Carlsen, "Discontinuous
Construction of Dress and Self in a 67 Colleen B. Cohen, Richard Wilk and Warps: Textile Production and
Highland Guatemala Town (Austin: Beverly Stoeltje, eds., Beauty Queens on Ethnicity in Contemporary Highland
University of Texas Press, 1993). the Global Stage: Gender, Contests and Guatemala," in Nash, Crafts in the
57 Ibid., 40. Power (New York: Routledge, 1996). World Market, 199-222.
58 Liza C. Dalby, Kimono: Fashioning 68 Ruth Barnes and Joanne B. Eicher, eds.,
Culture (New Haven: Yale University Dress and Gender: Making and Meaning in
Press, 1993). Cultural Contexts (Oxford and New BIBLIOGRAPHY
59 Sandra A. Niessen, Batak Cloth and York: Berg, 1992); Joanne B. Eicher, ed.,
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University Press, 1993). 1995; reprint, 1999); Lidia D. Sdama from the Codices. Norman: University
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