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Global Fashion: A Window into Globalization

Bangalore Fashion Week 2014

Bangalore Fashion Week 2014

For centuries, textiles and clothing styles have been one of the most obvious and poignant indicators of cross-cultural interchange.  With the rapid rise of globalization over the past several decades, the spread of fashion across global cultures has mirrored the changes in economy, culture, and daily life that globalization has brought. By studying the history and current trends in the fashion business, we not only address a fascinating and exciting field, but we can gain a better understanding of the complicated linkages that connect cultures and people in the modern world.

An example of the tendency for fashion to signify larger global changes is the 1990’s trend of “Orientalism” in Western fashion. Throughout the late 1980’s and 1990’s, fashion borrowed stylistic influences from Asian traditions. Some scholars believe that this trend was a result of the “opening up” of China in the early 1980’s as well as Hong Kong’s separation from Great Britain in 1997. These events not only allowed for the easier diffusion of Chinese cultural traditions throughout the world, but also contributed to an “accelerated a sense of Chinese identity,” as well as a confidence in that identity (Paulicelli and Clark, 2008).

As countries and cultures seek to define their cultural identity within the globalized context of the information age, fashion weeks are being born around the globe. Kazakhstan started their first ever fashion week in 2014, which received much attention from the fashion and lifestyle blogging world (Koopmans, 2014). Iran and Azerbaijan will celebrate their first ever fashion weeks this year. The Mercedes Benz STYLO Asia Fashion Week hosts shows rotated between in countries of China, Korea, Japan, India, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam.  These fashion weeks do not only serve to celebrate local fashion designers, they also attract international buyers and journalists that push forward the globalization of the fashion industry.

Despite being touted as a Western tradition, fashion weeks have played a role in reclaiming cultural identity through personal style. For example, this year India celebrates its 25th fashion show season that has spanned over the past 15 years. The unique and often non-western fashions of India are in many ways an anti-colonial statement, and these fashion weeks serve as a way to control their own narrative and representations in regards to fashion (Arora, 2014). Cultural appropriation has become a hot topic issue in the fashion industry, as models and celebrities have come under fire for donning bindis and Native American headdresses. Fashion communicates identity and power, and conflict around the political implications of fashion is nothing new. Marie Antoinette is one of the most well-known historical fashion plates, and scholars continue to study how her fashion influenced (and angered) citizens, reflected political alliances, and became internationally popular during Louis the XVI’s reign (Oatman-Stanford, 2015). Exploring the fashion trends of past and current cultures gives unique insight into globalization and the understandings held about globalization at the time.

Starting on May 15, 2015 the Rare Books and Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will host a summer exhibition on fashion plates entitled Poplin & Paper: Four Centuries of Fashion in Print. This exhibition, curated by Anna Chen, will explore the intersection of print and fashion.

Find more information about this topic with the resources below.

Web Resources

Encyclopedia of Fashion – Globalization

What It’s Like At Fashion Week in Kazakhstan

Iran holds first ever fashion week – AlMonitor

First Azerbaijan Fashion Week scheduled for May 2015

Mercedes Benz STYLO Asia Fashion Week

India: Lakmé Fashion Week

Fashion to Die For: Did an Addiction to Fads Lead Marie Antoinette to the Guillotine?

 

Scholarly Articles (Available through UIUC Online Journals and Databases): 

Arora, S. (2014). Globalized Frames of Indian Fashion. Global Studies Journal, 6(1), 37-43.

Moeran, B. (2008). Economic and cultural production as structural paradox: the case of international fashion magazine publishing. International Review Of Sociology, 18(2), 267-281

 

Books (Available through UIUC Libraries)

Eicher, J. 2008. The Visible Self: Global Perspectives of Dress, Culture, and Society (3rd eds.). New York: Fairchild Books

McCracken, A. (2014). The beauty trade: Youth, gender, and fashion globlization. New York, New York: Oxford University Press.

Paulicelli, Eugenia, and Clark, Hazel, eds.(2008). Fabric of Cultures : Fashion, Identity, Globalization. Florence, KY, USA: Routledge

Maynard, Margaret. (2004) Dress and globalisationManchester: Manchester University Press

 

 

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Transcending Nationalities: The “Global Imaginary” Seen Through Visual Culture

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Images are active players in the game of establishing and changing values. They are capable of introducing new values into the world and thus of threatening old ones.  J.T. Mitchell, 2005.

The concept of “global imaginary,” as coined by Manfred Steger, refers to the consciousness of belonging to a global community – a consciousness that has emerged in recent decades with the rapid rise of communication technologies and the decline of nation-based political ideologies. The concept builds on Benedict Anderson’s theories of “imagined communities,” but while Anderson used the term to refer to shared ideologies within nations, Steger posits that globalization is breaking down the imagined walls of nationhood and bringing about “a shared sense of a thickening world community.”  Steger insists that in order to understand and solve the great global problems of our time, we must first understand the “global imaginary” and all that it represents.

One artist and scholar has focused on visual culture as a way to understand the concept of “global imaginary.”  Tommaso Durante’s project, the Visual Archive Project of the Global Imaginary, explores the visual evidence, through photographs, of the cultural changes happening worldwide as a result of globalization.  Images are powerful conveyors of information. They carry a wealth of embedded knowledge about culture, values, and ideology. And Durante explains how, “due to the global spread of new media technologies, the massive uses of personal electronic devices and the development of intelligent architectural interfaces, visuality is increasingly eclipsing textuality and images, with their ‘surplus of value’, dominate the world.”  Indeed, if we look at how social media, with its image-heavy and text-sparse format, has become a unifying and polarizing force in the world, we can see how important visual culture is to the social forces that shape global society.

The photographs in Durante’s archive cover the cultural, political, and ideological dimensions of the “global imaginary.”  The photographs encompassing the cultural dimension are full of people, advertisements, storefronts, public spaces, and symbols that represent merging nationalities and ideologies.  The Apple logo is seen prominently displayed in a modern glass shopping center in East Shanghai, and then on a sign in from of an “iShop” housed in a beautiful historic building in Rome.  Through the images, we see how symbols and cultural icons stretch across the boundaries of nations and create a shared global visual landscape.  The images also venture into the political dimension, showing protest movements in the U.S. and Chile.  The ideological dimension shows advertisements and promotional imagery that deliberately make use of the the globe or words like “global” and “international” to produce a sense of shared meaning and influence cultural identities.

The archive may just be one artist’s perspective of the visual culture of globalization, but it is nonetheless a compelling portrait of the ways in which globalization is inciting a shared sense of meaning and belonging among global citizens.  The collection is a powerful illustration of the concept of the “global imaginary,” adding a visual dimension to Steger’s theory and, if Durante’s intentions come to fruition, serving as a historical archive of the process of globalization.

Learn more about globalization and the “global imaginary” with the resources below!

Scholarly Articles (Available through UIUC Online Journals & Databases)

Benedikter, Roland;  Ziveri, Davide.  (2014). The global imaginary, new media and sociopolitical innovation in the periphery: the practical case of an Internet-based empowerment project in Palestine and Israel. Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, 28:4.

Crang M. (2010). The death of great ships: photography, politics, and waste in the global imaginary. Environment and Planning A, 42:5, 1084 – 1102.

Durante, Tommasso. (2014). Visual Culture and Globalization: The Visual Archive Project of the Global Imaginary. Global-E Journal, 8.

Ojala, M. (2011). MEDIATING GLOBAL IMAGINARY. Journalism Studies, 12:5.

Steger, Manfred B.  (2009). The Rise of the Global Imaginary and the Persistence of Ideology. Global-E Journal, 3. 

Books

Anderson, Benedict O’G. (1991). Imagined communities: reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism. London : Verso.

Baldacchino, John,Vella, Raphael. (Eds.) (2013). Mediterranean art and education: navigating local, regional and global imaginaries through the lens of the arts and learning.  Rotterdam, The Netherlands : Sense Publishers.

Djelic, Marie-Laure.Quack, Sigrid. (Eds.) (2010). Transnational communities: shaping global economic governance. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press.

Krätke, Stefan, Wildner, Kathrin,  Lanz, Stephan. (Eds.) (2012). Transnationalism and urbanism. New York, NY : Routledge.

Shavit, Uriya. (2009). The new imagined community: global media and the construction of national and Muslim identities of migrants. Brighton [England] : Sussex Academic Press.

Steger, Manfred B.. (2008). The rise of the global imaginary: political ideologies from the French Revolution to the global war on terror. Oxford : Oxford University Press.

Vertovec, Steven. (2009). Transnationalism. London : Routledge.

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World Social Science Report 2013: Focusing on Changing Global Environments

The latest Social Science Report from UNESCO, released on November 15th, highlights the changing global environment and the impact that environmental changes have on social, economic, and political issues. The report highlights the need for in-depth research on environmental changes from a social science perspective, pointing to three “defining attributes” of modern global issues that particularly require the attentions of social science researchers. These three attributes are “The inseparability of social and environmental systems and problems,” “A human condition without precedent,” and “Urgent and fundamental social transformation.” With the goal of creating a basis for social science research in the field of environmental change, and spurring increased interest in the area among the social science community, the report includes perspectives from 150 authors from a variety of disciplines.

Although social scientists have been studying global environmental change since the 1950s, the field is still mostly dominated by natural science research. Asserting that the complex issue of environmental change requires a cross-discipline approach, the authors of the World Social Science Report call for the integration of global change research from around the world into an international multi-disciplinary research campaign.* The argument is that “global change changes everything.” Humans rely on the natural resources that the Earth provides, and changes in the natural world present very real and pressing challenges for humanity, challenges which require a broad perspective that draws on wisdom from many different disciplines. The most effective way to understand and navigate major global issues like environmental change is through a collaborative, multi-disciplinary approach to research and development. Hopefully this report will be an effective motivator for members of the social science community to tackle the issues surrounding global environmental change and to reach out to other disciplines to form collaborative partnerships and launch new paths of research on the subject.

* One organization, Future Earth, is attempting this integration through an alliance of international organizations that will endeavor to find solutions to global change issues.

Want to learn more about global environmental change from a social science perspective? Here are some great sources on the topic!

World Social Science Report 2013 – Changing Global Environments – Executive Summary

Future Earth

News Sources on the Report

UN News Center

Reuters

Scholarly Articles

Bradatan, Cristina. (2013). Where do we go from here? Climate change as a human affair. International Sociology. 28, 496.

Ehrlich, Paul R.. (2011). Seeking environmental solutions in the social sciences. Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, 67(5), 1-8.

Lahsen, Myanna. (2013). Climategate: the role of the social sciences. Climatic Change, 119(3-4), 547-558.
Moss, R. H., Edmonds, J. A., Hibbard, K. A., Manning, M. R., Rose, S. K., van Vuuren, D. P., & Wilbanks, T. J. (2010). The next generation of scenarios for climate change research and assessment. Nature, 463(7282), 747-756.

Books from UIUC Libraries

Almlund, Pernille., Jespersen, Per Homann, Riis, Søren. (Eds.) (2012). Rethinking climate change research: clean-technology, culture and communication. Farnham, Surrey, England ; Ashgate Pub. Co.

Driessen, P, P. J., Leroy, Pieter, Vierssen, Wilhelmus van. (Eds.) (2010). From climate change to social change :perspectives on science-policy interactions. Utrecht : International Books.

Harper, Charles L. (2012). Environment and society: human perspectives on environmental issues. Boston : Prentice Hall.

Hastrup, Kirsten.Olwig, Karen Fog. (Eds.) (2012). Climate change and human mobility: global challenges to the social sciences. Cambridge. England : Cambridge University Press.

O’Brien, Karen L., St. Clair, Asuncion Lera, Kristoffersen, Berit. (Eds.) (2010). Climate change, ethics and human security. New York : Cambridge University Press.

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