Gisele Aris

Penn Humanities Forum Undergraduate Fellow

20062007 Forum on Travel

Gisele Aris

African Studies, Diplomatic History

College '07

The Power and Politics of Dress in Africa

In different ways, power is represented, constituted, articulated, and contested through dress. A compelling political language, dress is comparable in eloquence and potency to the words of the most skilled orator, or the writings of the most persuasive propagandist. How does moving across time and space change the meanings of a particular item of clothing? Why is fashion never a universal language? How, specifically, has the role of dress in Africa been shaped by encounters created by travel?