Dress and the African Diaspora Network

Led by Carol Tulloch, TrAIN Senior Research Fellow, the Dress & the African Diaspora Network is supported by the Diasporas, Migration and Identities programme to provide a series of focused research forums over two years.

Africa, Europe, the Caribbean, South America and the U.S. have experienced historical and cultural ruptures that resulted in the creation of the African diaspora, notably slavery, colonialism, imperialism, and eventually independence. These events have had a continuing impact on the way people within the African diaspora have negotiated, and defined their sense of self, ethnicity and class. One way in which this occurs ia through the stylistic attention made to everyday dress, textiles for occasional or traditional clothing, street styles or fashion trends. Such a context provides the basis for the network to tease out a wide range of issues for further study, from local and regional concerns to the connections between different cultural geographies, as in the export and import of goods and ideas.

The Dress & the African Diaspora Network provides a series of forums where established and new researchers discuss the consumption, production, collection and display of dress, textiles and beauty regimes. The primary aim of the Dress and the African Diaspora Network is to provide a forum for debate in order to identify new directions of study, and to create information resources for scholars in the field. It is an unprecedented method of developing this area of study and consequently the network will provide a broader knowledge base for a wide variety of international academics, practitioners and students.

The eight permanent members of the Network are:

Christopher Breward (Victoria and Albert Museum, London), Avis Charles (Avis Charles Associates, London), Janice Cheddie (researcher and consultant, London), Carolyn Cooper (University of West Indies, Mona, Jamaica), Van Dyk Lewis (Cornell University, New York), Susan Kaiser (University of California at Davis, CA.), Leslie Rabine (University of California at Davis, CA.)

To date, there have been two successful network sessions, at the V&A Museum, London, 4 April 2006 and at the University of California, Davis, 26-29 April 2006. A public symposium will be held at the V&A Museum, London, 28-29th October 2007.

The Diasporas, Migration and Identities programme is a trans-disciplinary research programme funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. It includes arts and humanities scholars from all over the UK working on individual research, large collaborative and interdisciplinary projects, and in international networks.