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Couture and Consensus

Couture and Consensus: Fashion and Politics in Postcolonial Argentina

Volume: 24
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Couture and Consensus
    Book Description:

    In Couture and Consensus, Regina A. Root shows how politics emerged from dress to disrupt authoritarian practices and stimulate creativity in a newly independent nation following Argentina’s revolution in 1810. An insightful presentation of the discourse of fashion, Couture and Consensus also paints a riveting portrait of Argentine society in the nineteenth century—its politics, people, and creative forces.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7333-9
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. INTRODUCTION Interrogating Fashion
    (pp. xiii-xxx)

    At the height of the protests in economically devastated Argentina, on December 20, 2001, several prominent authors waited in front of television cameras at the Clásica y Moderna bookstore in Buenos Aires for a special cultural event organized by the Secretaría de Cultura de la Nación and the Cámara Argentina del Libro. For weeks, television advertisements had promoted a “buy one book and get the next free” offer alongside the opportunity to meet with the country’s most celebrated authors. AsLa Naciónwould report, not one reader showed up.¹ The authors, who included Federico Andahazi, Juan Forn, Dalmiro Sáenz, Leopoldo...

  5. ONE Uniform Consensus
    (pp. 1-34)

    In the political allegory by Esteban Echeverría, “El matadero” (“The Slaughterhouse”), knife-wielding butchers reminiscent of some of Goya’s more monstrous ghouls overpower an elegantly dressed gentleman. Because of his European-style costume and mannerisms, the young man is identified by a Federalist multitude as a Unitarian and is declared an enemy of the people. Under the spell of religious fanaticism and patriotic fervor, Federalists prepare him for sacrifice. His well-groomed appearance contrasts with the blood-stained rags of the spectators and the crimson uniforms worn by Federalist soldiers. Restrained by his oppressors, the defenseless body of the Unitarian is like a strip...

  6. TWO Dressed to Kill
    (pp. 35-60)

    Through the lens of dress, we can unravel some of the every day transactions inflected with the burdens of the colonial order and the formation of citizen-subjects in the River Plate region. It can also bring us closer to “dreams full of history, of known unknown persons”¹ and enact a dialogue between the individual and the collective in the realm of the cultural imaginary. We have seen how the Rosas regime worked to create a consensus around Federalism, particularly through legalized dress codes and the display of masculinity that represented political legitimacy. Representations of uniform, in particular, forged a strong...

  7. THREE Fashion as Presence
    (pp. 61-94)

    As a profoundly social process, fashion invites individual and collective bodies to assume certain identities and, at times, to transgress their limits. At a moment when the obligatory scarlet insignia ordered and unified all under the pledge of Federal power, variances in style helped solidify the politics and position of the wearer. The official literature of the period often intensified distinctions in male costume, delineating the patriotic subject and implicating the Unitarian in a drama of national betrayal. Dress codes seem to have enabled authors and bystanders to “read” a person or group in the same way one might read...

  8. FOUR Fashion Writing
    (pp. 95-124)

    Clothing has functions so apparent that they become easily dismissed, trivialized, or forgotten. But the same coat that keeps out the elements can also distinguish one’s social class and political affinities. In postcolonial Argentina, several influential writers used the apparent triviality of fashion, or what seemed to be innocuous descriptions of clothing and fashion, to import revolutionary ideals. Going far beyond the reporting of innovations in the fashion industry and the detailing of new articles of clothing, these writers imbued everything from pantaloons to petticoats with radical significance in the spectacle of an emerging public sphere.

    Icons of Federalist power...

  9. FIVE Searching for Female Emancipation
    (pp. 125-148)

    One day, a young romance writer who has lost his place to urban expansion in Buenos Aires overhears this intimate conversation coming from another bedroom in an all-women’s residence hall. An “invisible houseguest” in Madame Bazan’s boardinghouse for middle-class women of all ages, Mauricio Ridel works on finishing a happy ending for his latest serialized novel. During the writing process, however, he finds himself distracted by the sounds and rhythms of the house, his focus carried away to the conversations in the house on fashion, family life, and female emancipation. Careful not to indicate his presence in any way (for...

  10. EPILOGUE Counter-Couture
    (pp. 149-162)

    A few years into the twenty-first century, a walk in downtown Buenos Aires on a summer afternoon reveals a trend for solidarity-inspired styles.¹ The relaxed fashions of today contrast sharply with those of previous decades, when strict codes imposed clean-cut looks for men and feminine designs (such as skirts and dresses) for women. Very little has been written about the political nature of clothing from this period, although dress was indeed used to regiment the population during dictatorship. In “Scattered Bodies, Unfashionable Flesh,” Fabricio Forastelli remembers, “My first memories of fashion date back to the 1970s, precisely the moment when...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 163-202)
  12. Index
    (pp. 203-222)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 223-224)