issue

abstracts

 


16 (2)


'It Is Just a Fashion!'
Linking Homosexuality and 'Modernity' in South Africa
Graeme Reid

This paper explores the conceptual links between gay lifestyles and local understand­ings of modernity in South Africa . This is done through an analysis of the term 'fashion' as it is commonly used to describe gay men, which is contrasted with another term in common usage, namely stabane, an isiZulu word meaning hermaphrodite. The Miss Gay Queenstown 2000 beauty pageant illustrates complex and sometimes competing identities that need to be understood with reference to changing sexual mores associated with the introduction of a rights-based constitutional democracy in South Africa . The respected niche that gay men enjoy within the black hairstyling industry is explored in terms of client aspirations and various forms of gay self-styling. Beauty pageants and gay participation in the hairstyling profession offer a way of exploring the links between homosexuality and modernity in the public sphere. The paper concludes that there is an ambiguous inflection in the term 'fashion' when it is applied to homosexuality and that this can be understood as an expression of a deeper ambivalence towards modernity. (back)

 


Ephemeral Memorials Against Senseless Violence:
Materialisations of Public Outcry
Irene Stengs

Since the mid-nineties, in The Netherlands quite a number of cases of violent death have given rise to intense, short-lived attention from media and public, 'senseless violence' being their common denominator. It is argued that the responses of media and public evolve along the lines of a ritualised pattern, one of the material expressions being an ephemeral memorial. Taking the memorial for Anja Joos, the most recent victim of 'senseless-violence', as its starting point, this essay explores the popular concept of 'senseless violence', the evolution of the narrative behind the subsequent hypes, and the societal anxieties and issues on the background. (back)


Islam and Fashion on the Streets of San'a, Yemen
Annelies Moors

Can we speak of Islamic fashion or is this a contradiction in terms? This artic1e deals with a setting that is generally seen as traditionalist, that is San'a, the capital of the Yemen Arab Republic . If there seems to be little space for the development of fashionable women's dress, both for the women concerned and for others taking an interest in women's dress, such as conservative religious authorities, fashion is au issue. This artic1e sets out with a brief analysis of how conservative Islamists have discussed fashion in the colourful booklets they distribute in San'a. This then is followed by a description of debates that have taken place in San 'a about women's dress, starting in the 1960s, and trends in women's everyday sartorial practices from the 1960s till 2000. The question whether Islam and fashion can go together turns out to be a question about Islam, agency, and modernity. Those who assume that Islam and fashion do not go together, be it Western scholars or the conservative authors of the booklets, as su me a link between wearing Islamic dress and tradition, albeit in a different way. The everyday sartorial practices of San'ani women obviously contradict such a point of view. (back)


Apuskeleke
Youth Fashion Craze, Immorality or Female Harassment?
Brigid M. Sackey

Apuskeleke is a term that has recently entered Ghanaian vocabulary. Its etymology is not known, but my field research revealed that it was first introduced in a 'Hip-life' song titled abuskeleke in early 2003. Its usage seems to have changed from describing young girls and women who move with 'Sugar Daddies' to extract money and other material goods in exchange for sex, to refer to young girls who dress in short, skin-tight outfits that expo se certain private parts of their bodies. Girls in such attire are supposed to be indecently clothed and are therefore insulted and hooted at in public, generally by men. The older generation also is not in favour of this new fashion craze. While the youth who are subscribers to this dress code unswervingly argue that it is a fashion they have a right to, the protestors think it is antagonistic to Ghanaian culture etiquette and therefore needs to be resented, if not banned. Apuskeleke is thus a contested phenomenon as it is embraced by some people and despised by others. (back)


Women in the Dance Scene Lose Themselves to Find the Self
Karin Wesselink

Fashion has not only to do with physical appearance, there is also an inside component. In the case of women who were going out in the Dutch dance scene during the summer of 2001 fashion is being used to find their inner self. And this searching seems to be a fashion in itself. It is fashion for these women to show the world they are women belonging to themselves. Only that 'self' can still be explored. One of the ways contemporary women do that is by using drugs and by using themselves in the music and in the shared feeling with the others.(back)


Reveal or Conceal?
American Religious Discourse With Fashion
Susan O. Michelman

This paper examines American religious discourse with fashion. In the current social environment, the interest in modesty is more than a shift in trends. The ascendance and assertion of religious views on the body can lead fashion, as demonstrated in the increasing interest in more modest fashion and movement against immodesty. Membership in evangelical and fundamental religions, which is currently increasing in numbers, is influencing non-religious consumer culture by pressuring designers, producers and retailers of fashion .(back)


Keeping Up Appearances
Fashion and Function Among Dar es Salaam Street Youth
Eileen Moyer

It is a commonly held view that young, urban people regularly spend too much money on their clothes and, further, that they too of ten consume in accordance with global trends too heavily influenced by Western, specifically American hip-hop, fashions. This article, drawing on empirical data gathered in Dar es Salaam , Tanzania , in the year 2000, demonstrates that young people, regardless of the marginality of their economic status, are able and prefer to make clothing choices based on complex reasoning strategies that take everyday living and working conditions into account. It argues that despite being heavily influenced by American hip-hop culture and Jamaiean Rastafari ideals, they consciously and intelligently work to achieve 'a look' that is suitable to their living environment and is also reflective of their own desires. (back)


The Murder of Pim Fortuyn and Collective Emotions
Hype, Hysteria and Holiness in The Netherlands?
Peter Jan Margr

The meteoric rise in the popularity of Pim Fortuyn and his political movement and its abrupt end, caused by his assassination on May 6 2002, was followed by an outburst of collective emotion. These phenomena involve two waves of hype in which the media played a major role. Massive media attention for Fortuyn as a politician who was gifted with great charisma and was 'said to 'speak the language of the people', made politically inactive social groups conscious of the potential role he could fulfil in solving the social problems with which they were confronted. His sudden death was consequently a great loss for his followers. The outpouring of public emotion that followed resulted in the creation of several spontaneous shrines, where thousands left messages, and which were visited by many thousands more. For a large part of Dutch society, the intense media coverage of this new phenomenon made these shrines pre-eminent constructed foci for dealing with and processing Fortuyn's murder. At the same time they functioned as 'democratic' tools in articulating criticism towards polities, and proved the hype to be an effective and meaningful one. (back)


Fads and Crazes
Jaap van Ginneken

What distinguishes fashion from fads or crazes? In addressing this question, the author argues that mainstream mass psychosocial explanations of mass behaviour fail to understand the sudden and unpredicted speed with which fads tend to come up and fade away. More qualitative research is needed to explore the complex, layered and even contradictory realities of the mind, society and their interactions. (back)


Community Aesthetics
Michel Maffesoli

This essay diseusses the inereasing appeal of trends, and seeks to understaud what it is that this phenomenon might teIl us about eontemporary ways of being in the world. Trend followers are attentive to prevailing sentiments, they attune themselves to the opportunities of the present. In post-modemism, situations are all that eount. The author argues that there is no indifferenee in such an immanentism but, conversely, an abiding awareness, an attention to what is: the world, fellow human beings, the social. (back)