214 Chapters
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ONE Veiling, Fashion, and Social Mobility: A Century of Change in Zanzibar • LAURA FAIR

Edited by Elisha P Renne Indiana University Press ePub

“The Veil” has never been a static thing, nor have its use and meaning been firm. In this chapter, I explore changes in veiling habits in Zanzibar over the course of more than a century, illustrating both how and why the veil has changed over time. Though “the veil” is often condemned in the West as a sign of women’s subordination, here I illustrate that in Zanzibar women have often used the veil to assert both their freedom and their economic might. The bulk of this chapter examines changes in veiling fashions over the course of the twentieth century, but I begin with a brief discussion of a more recent trend to illustrate that the uses and meanings attributed to the veil worn by women in the Isles of Zanzibar—which includes two large islands, Unguja and Pemba, and several smaller ones which came to be known collectively as Zanzibar—are often completely hidden from casual observers in the West.

At the turn of the twenty-first century a new veiling fashion was increasingly seen on the streets and in the markets of Zanzibar. Suddenly, it seemed, growing numbers of women were donning the niqāb, choosing to cover their faces entirely when in public rather than wearing the more common buibui, which left their faces open, or the more casual kanga,thrown over the top of the head and draped over the shoulders and chest. Where did this new style come from, I wondered? And what was the impetus for this change? (Plate 1).

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3 Reinventing Local Forms: African Fashion, Indigenous Style

Victoria L. Rovine Indiana University Press ePub

I was drawn to everything that was African.

—Chris Seydou, Malian fashion designer, Bamako, 6 March 1993

The traditional and the contemporary with a touch of originality. These are the three elements of creativity.

—Salah Barka, Tunisian fashion designer, Paris, 19 June 2010

Sun Goddess harvests stories and images of South African traditions. These stories look back to our heritage and its relevance to the past, present and future.

—Vanya and Thando Mangaliso, South African fashion designers, Sun Goddess website, 1 February 2011

We need to preserve indigenous, traditional techniques by making them modern.

—Aboubakar Fofana, Malian artist and designer, Bamako, 25 June 2009

I want to take from the past and take it with me into the future.

—Laduma Ngxokolo, South African fashion designer, Port Elizabeth, 2 June 2012

In his autobiographical novel L’Enfant Noir (The Dark Child), Guinean writer Camara Laye used clothing to make a powerful statement about the shifting incarnations of tradition. Recalling the rituals by which life was ordered during his childhood, Laye described how people in his community continued to embrace practices that had been detached from the meanings that once inspired them. Now, these practices simply evoke the idea of tradition: “Sometimes only the spirit of a tradition survives; sometimes only its form. Its outer garments, as it were, remain.”1 Clothing here stands in for the residue of tradition, a remnant of practices no longer integral to people’s lives. It may also refer to vaguely remembered histories. Importantly, Laye does not express this shifting meaning as loss, but rather as a source of comfort in the certainty that these rituals (or the garments that are their residue) still have meaning. Writing of a harvest ritual whose origins are lost to memory, Laye notes: “Yet, like all our customs, this one had its significance.”2

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Chapter Four On Father’s Side: The Baks

Samuel S. Bak Indiana University Press ePub
Medium 9780253005984

5 Diasporic Values in Contemporary Art: R. B. Kitaj, Ben Katchor, Vera Frenkel

Carol Zemel Indiana University Press ePub

The Diasporist feels uneasy, alert to his new freedom, groundless, even foreign—until or unless he feels very much at home.

—R. B. Kitaj, First Diasporist Manifesto

Exile is always the beginning of narrative—and Diaspora is the place where people talk.

—Sidra DeKoven Ezrahi, Booking Passage

I begin this chapter and conclude this book with a challenge posed in these epigraphs on Jewish life and art in diaspora. In his First Diasporist Manifesto (1989), the painter R. B. Kitaj declares diaspora’s fundamental ambivalence. It encompasses both the exhilaration and anxiety of being unfettered—free of convention and proscriptive ties—as well as uneasiness in that “groundless” state. The discomfort passes, Kitaj suggests, when the Diasporist recognizes that this state can also be “home.” Aphoristic in style, the Manifesto proclaims displacement as a central condition of modernity and modern art. “Diasporist painting, which I just made up,” Kitaj wrote, “is enacted under peculiar historical and personal freedoms, stresses, dislocation, rupture and momentum. The Diasporist lives and paints in two or more societies at once.”1 Diasporism, then, is deemed a characteristic of modern artists generally. “In my time,” he states, “half the painters of the great schools of Paris, New York and London were not born in their host countries.”2 Kitaj saw a real advantage to this condition for the artist. “As a painter, I’ve come to detect something like moral power or destiny, living in more than one society, wrapped about in art, in its histories and antitheses.”3 But however broad the Manifesto’s claims, and however eager the artist was to see it as a modern condition, Kitaj’s Diasporism is clearly Jewish. “Diasporic painting,” he wrote, “is unfolding commentary on its life-source, the contemplation of a transience, a Midrash . . . in paint. . . . These circumstantial allusions form themselves into secular Responsa or reactions to one’s transient restlessness, un-at-homeness, groundlessness.”4

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5. Living Downstream: East Austin through the Blackland Prairies

Margie Crisp Texas A&M University Press ePub


The river pours out of Longhorn Dam and starts a series of lazy, looping curves on its way to the coast. It changes in temperament and character. The way people look at it alters; there can be no mistaking that it is a river again, in name and nature. Just downstream from the last dam (for the present), the river glides underneath the soaring buttresses and pillars of the Montopolis Bridges. The river feels like an anachronism after the high-priced estates and manicured lawns bordering the reservoirs upstream. City of Austin parks bordering the river on either side (Guerro Park on the south and the Colorado River Preserve on the north) are not akin to the mowed and maintained hike and bike trails just upstream around Lady Bird Lake. Erosion eats at the banks of Guerro Park. In the Colorado River Preserve, eroded trails score the woods, heaps of dumped household and construction trash clog the gullies, and debris washed downstream laces the brush.

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1. Talking to People about Art

Joanna Grabski Indiana University Press ePub


Without thinking about it deeply, you might not realize that talking to people about art is a practice fraught with difficulty. First, there is the fact that visual art especially, but also music and performance, deploy form to produce an effect in ways that often defy authoritative explanation. Art takes you to places filled with thoughts and emotions, but by a very different route than you would have traveled had words alone been the vehicle in which you rode. Indeed, it sometimes seems that art exists to provide a landscape of exploration and analysis in which words work only with the greatest deliberation, and then at the cost of losing some of art's provocative potency. When you talk to people about art, be they consumers or producers—audiences or artists—you face the problem that words can be clumsy, obfuscating, diffusing tools with which to record the making and experiencing of visual culture. It might be easier to use words to examine the things that exist around art, such as artists’ biographies, influences on their work, the influence they have on others, the ways they manifest technique, or the goals they seek to articulate, though these topics too impose obstacles and are not as straightforward as they might seem. But exploring the broad world of art, from artists’ backgrounds and abilities to the effects that artists seek to create and the experiences that audiences gain from art, is vitally important if we are to comprehend expressive culture's depth of resonance in the human condition and its relevance to all human affairs. So we must seek ways to use words that foster understanding of a creative domain that often seems anathema to verbal exposition.

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Olive Jensen Theisen University of North Texas Press PDF

Chapter 5


FUTURE: 1974–1983

u  u  u

Houston, Texas

How does one introduce the positive African

American image? One has to like oneself— one can reject the old images, but without a new image, one is lost, in chaos.

— John Biggers, telephone interview with author, Houston, July 29, 1993.

During a nearly decade-long hiatus from mural painting, John Biggers continued to draw, paint, teach, and build the art department at Texas

Southern University. Most significantly, he continued his artistic struggle to integrate African,

European, and Regionalist influences into his own visual language.

Throughout his career, one of Biggers’s goals had been to create heroic visual images—archetypes—that would provide a sense of identification for people of African descent. (fig.

5.1) Biggers noted that his mentor at Hampton

Institute, Viktor Lowenfeld, had studied with psychologist Carl Jung, and had infused his teaching with Jungian archetypal concepts. (In a primer of

Jungian Psychology, an archetype is defined as “an original model after which other things are patterned, such as birth ... hero … earth mother … trees, the sun, the moon … Archetypes are universal.” 1)

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4. Another Colorado: The Highland Lakes and Lady Bird Lake

Margie Crisp Texas A&M University Press ePub


“Who knew,” the ruddy-faced man seated in front of me whispered to his wife, “that bald eagles are really bald? That one doesn’t have a single feather on its ugly red head.” His wife lowered her binoculars and said doubtfully, “That’s a bald eagle?” Meanwhile, the enthusiastic birdwatcher had pushed her way out of the cabin and onto the foredeck of the Eagle II to misidentify more birds. I scanned the sky, “Oh look!” I called and pointed. A dozen sets of binoculars snapped to the section of sky above the limestone canyon. “Oh heck, it’s just another turkey vulture.” I announce. The couple murmurs to each other. “Bald eagles aren’t bald,” she says with satisfaction. “But turkey vultures are,” he replies.

I’m on the Vanishing Texas River Cruise1 with a group of birdwatchers and tourists; we are cruising up the limestone canyons at the head of Lake Buchanan, the first of the Lower Colorado River Authority’s (LCRA) Highland Lakes. Our boat, the Eagle II, is a big, broad vessel with a shallow draft and a glass-enclosed cabin protecting us from the raw January day. A few hardy souls stand outside in the drizzle and wind scanning the skies for bald eagles, osprey, and other winter residents of the canyons. Ferns embellish the cliffs near the waterfalls. Slender trees and shrubs, cactus, yucca, clumps of wiry grasses, and other determined survivors knot their roots into crevices and narrow pockets of soil along the rock face.

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5 Zombie Health Care

Edward P Comentale Indiana University Press ePub

Wouldn’t it be kinder, more compassionate to just hold your loved ones and wait for the clock to run down?

Dr. Edwin Jenner in “TS-19,” The Walking Dead (2010)

“Wildfire,” the fifth episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead’s first season, shows a crisis many Americans are currently facing.1 In the aftermath of a zombie attack, the human survivors must prevent their killed loved ones from returning as zombies. One woman, Carol, refuses to let the group’s men take responsibility for “decraniating” her prone life partner. “He’s my husband,” she says before splattering his gray matter onto the viewing lens. The scene cuts to another woman, Andrea, cradling her dead sister and waiting for the first sign of reanimation. Over a soundtrack of sentimentalized music, Andrea mournfully says, “Amy. Amy. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for not ever being there. I always thought that there’d be more time. I’m here now, Amy. I’m here. I love you.” When Amy’s groans indicate her undead return, the men move to dispatch her. But Andrea preempts this outsider intervention by shooting her own sister’s brains out.

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11 Sensorial Techniques of the Self: From the Jouissance of May ’68 to the Economy of the Delay

Daniel J Sherman Indiana University Press ePub



Without elevating the French revolts of May 1968 to the status of mythical events that can be neither captured nor repeated, it is apparent that their power to connote new forms of governance and subjectivization has not waned. Especially in the last decade, contemporary art practitioners, such as Olafur Eliasson, have harnessed the participatory, democratic discourse that surrounded the events of May 1968 as a way of invigorating the public to generate forms of subjectivization within art institutions. This ostensible repetition raises important questions about the afterlives of 1968 as a particular (yet plural) historical confluence of political circumstances, material practices, and representational and textual artifacts that still resonate in the contemporary imaginary. Indeed, if the last forty years have seen diverse recuperations and reproductions of May 1968 as a global seismic shift, the one I would like to excavate revolves around the intersection of phenomenological experience and the democratic opposition to government power within the French context. Articulated as a critical paradigm for collective organization by diverse voices during the ’68 revolts, this particular history becomes all the more pronounced through its novel iterations in aesthetic manifestations such as Olafur Eliasson’s The Weather Project at the beginning of the twenty-first century.1 At the crux of this essay is the presentation of a microhistory that asks how the modality of participation, considered both a political manifestation of and resistance to biopower, has gone through a radical transformation since the “long ’68” to become a conceptual platform for contemporary aesthetics. My main focus is the way in which the discourse of revolutionary “spontaneity” that characterized the French revolts has been modified into an insistence on the ethical experience of the “delay” in Eliasson’s installation. To crystallize the implications of this conceptual and temporal reformulation, it is imperative to understand how the body and visual apparatus of the “participant” have been envisaged and deployed in these two disparate moments and to what ends. Through such an analysis, we can assess the continuing valence of 1968 and confront the complex methodological problems that come with evaluating such apparent paradigm repetitions.

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3 What’s Left of the Right to the City?

Daniel J Sherman Indiana University Press ePub


An undeniable legacy of 1968 is the proclamation of the right to the city. What happened in Paris, Prague, and many other cities, however, was merely the crystallization of long-existing conditions: even the concept was formulated earlier. Henri Lefebvre finished The Right to the City in 1967, on the centenary of volume 1 of Marx’s Capital, as Lefebvre himself noted, but it was not this temporal coincidence or the intellectual kinship that determined its significance. The concept of the right to the city came into its own with the events of 1968; it received justification in people reclaiming the streets for radical politics, people who acted as if they had all read Lefebvre and were staging his work in the streets of Paris. The right to the city has informed urban theory and inspired urban justice movements ever since. Some also note the radical transformation this notion has gone through since its conception, what with the “undeclared vulgarization” of some of Lefebvre’s ideas, and their circulation in severely abridged forms undermining their original meaning.1

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2 • Forgetting to Remember: Gyapagpa Temple’s Shifting Identity

Melissa R. Kerin Indiana University Press ePub

Tibetan Buddhism often places a strong emphasis on memory. Supernatural powers of recollection, for example, are among the great abilities acquired through enlightenment; the saṃsāric state, by contrast, can be described as amnesic.1 In artistic contexts, this ideal of perfect recollection has often found visual expression in the form of maṇḍalas, iconographic compositions of highly orchestrated constellations of deities housed within precisely rendered geometric forms. Another visual tool used to catalyze a more pragmatic level of mnemic engagement2 is the illustrated lineages of Buddhist teachers who have mastered and taught Vajrayāna practices. Wall paintings such as the ones found at the Gyapagpa Temple include painted lineages that are carefully and deliberately used to communicate the veracity and heritage of a specific teaching and lineage. This lineage works in concert with the larger iconographic program including deities, Buddhas, and bodhisattvas, all identified with accompanying inscriptions. But what happens when these carefully crafted identities—both divine and human—are forgotten? In this chapter I look at precisely this problem.

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13. After the Wedding

Pravina Shukla Indiana University Press ePub

WHEN SHE TALKED about adornment, Mukta Tripathi made clear that a woman’s choices are influenced by her personal taste—and by the factors of age and social development. Mukta easily describes the clothes she wore during different phases of her life. As a little girl, until the sixth grade, she wore frocks, skirts and blouses, shorts or pants. From the seventh to the twelve grades, she wore salwar suits and jeans, but never skirts or dresses, since it was improper for a young lady to show her legs. As a young bride, she dressed in bright saris and wore makeup and jewelry in abundance. Now Mukta has switched to saris in “sober colors,” because, as she explained to me, in India a mother-in-law and her daughter-in-law “should not match.” Although Mukta is not yet a mother-in-law, she feels she has reached the age when it is inappropriate for her to show herself as a flashy, young wife.

Mukta, in her forties, prefers saris in tones of beige, cream, and other “light colors,” but they shift with the current fashion. In 2003, the trend was to wear saris with a thin strip of monochrome embroidery along the border that matched the field of the sari exactly in color, and to wear it with a blouse in the same color, with the same monochrome embroidery on the edges of the sleeves. Mukta continues to wear “natural, decent makeup.” The subtle shift in clothing, marked mostly by its palette, reflects her view of herself as a mother of grown-up boys—the oldest one is in high school—who is still attuned to style. She told me that wearing a lot of makeup ruins the skin, making women look old, which is another reason to decrease the amount of makeup as one ages. Mukta is fully aware of the social and developmental categories women pass through, categories that are publicly communicated by clothing and jewelry. Her decision to abandon certain styles or colors is partially influenced by other people’s opinions, for middle-aged and older women are often criticized for being too ornamented.1 Mukta told me that she would like to wear salwar suits occasionally, but her kids made fun of her when she did in the past, calling her “Mukta didi”—big sister Mukta—implying that when she wears a salwar suit she does not look like a mother, but rather, like somebody’s sister (children often hold a rigid and conservative vision of what their parents should look like). On a few recent occasions, Mukta’s two sons pointed to older women on the streets whom they deemed to be dressed inappropriately in a style too youthful, and begged Mukta not to dress that way when she becomes “aged.”

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6 Pushing Luck Too Far: ’68, Northern Ireland, and Nonviolence

Daniel J Sherman Indiana University Press ePub


On October 5, 1968, police officers broke ranks to beat a small civil rights march off the streets of Derry. The young poet Seamus Heaney recognized this moment as a “watershed in the political life of Northern Ireland”: it was no longer possible to believe in “shades of grey.”1 On October 4, 2008, the commemorations marking the fortieth anniversary of the march opened in Derry’s Guildhall with an easy-listening version of Nina Simone’s “Free.” This was appropriate for an event that smoothed out the story of the past to suit the needs of the politics of the present. A Nobel Peace Prize winner, John Hume, and a former high-ranking member of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), Martin McGuinness, each laid claim to the movement’s legacy; the different Irish nationalist traditions—constitutionalism and physical force—each laid exclusive claim to continue the struggle of the Catholic minority.2

But the speech given by the journalist Nell McCafferty was played in a new key. She took out her medicine and encouraged people in the audience to talk about the drugs that they had been prescribed, for she felt that popping pills was the only proper response to the sight of elderly men parading onto the platform in acts of self-promotion. The late 1960s that McCafferty recalled were not about peaceful politics or the politics of the gun; they were about homeless families squatting in empty properties, the occupation of public buildings, and protesters challenging bans on marches. She talked about nonviolence, a democratic idea that is little heard of in the public discourse of Northern Ireland.3 It is an idea that questions the act of peacefully working within the system as much as violently trying to overthrow it. It is an idea that since the 1960s has helped end empires, topple dictators, and pull down barriers to equality. It is an idea that subversively suggests that even democratic states often have to be forced to concede change. The uneasy listening continued for the politicians when McCafferty asked and eventually bullied those who had also broken the law to raise their hands. A spontaneous round of applause sounded around the hall.4 In a reprise of what had happened four decades earlier, nonviolent confrontation had briefly offered the Catholic community something different from constitutional nationalism and militant republicanism.

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15. The Wedding

Pravina Shukla Indiana University Press ePub

ON A STEAMY JULY evening in 1996, a small gathering of people sat in plastic chairs on the lawn of a five-star hotel in the Mughal city of Lucknow, waiting for the ceremony to begin. The bride, Shalini Shrivastava, looked beautiful as she emerged, accompanied by her younger sister, Nidhi. Shalini wore a magenta silk lehanga and covered her head modestly with the dupatta, surrounding her pretty face in bright, soft fabric. She wore the customary gold jewelry; the golden hathphul on her hands glittered in the flash of the cameras. Shalini approached the platform where her groom, Rohit, waited, dressed in a turban and an off-white suit with a long Nehru jacket, called a shervani.1 The couple exchanged flower garlands to the applause of their family and friends. A rich meal followed, after which most of the guests went home. Only the immediate family and a few close friends remained for the Hindu ceremony that continued into the night, during which the pundit, with Vedic chants in Sanskrit, united the young couple in eternal matrimony.

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