Return of the Prodigal Blogger

Walking away from a successful shopping trip to Rough Trade East in London.

I’m back from my nearly month-long work-vacation to London, during which I met some lovely scholars from all over at the “Beyond Citizenship: Feminism and the Transformation of Belonging” conference at Birkbeck, crammed in museums (where I marveled at both the collections and the near-total absence of colonial self-reflection), dance performances (ranging from terrible, competent, and moving), much record shopping (in the photograph above, I am strolling away from Rough Trade West having purchased all kinds of music, including some great ’70s New York no wave recordings), and an unfortunate viewing of Twilight: Eclipse (which caused much despair amidst the groans and the giggling).

After a week of horrible jet-lag, I’m just starting to make a work schedule for myself, which includes Threadbared, of course! I do have some posts in various stages of preparation in the pipeline, including further thoughts on prison and dress reform, sartorial-racial profiling and the ever-increasingly blurred distinction between police and military operations, and what we might discern about aesthetics, politics, and the disturbing figure of the sleep-walker in the recent dust-up around Rodarte, MAC, and “Juarez”-gate. All love to Minh-Ha for holding down the blog during my absence!

Meanwhile, I’ve been catching up on my blog-reading, including Fashion for Writers and Jenny Z’s her critique of the new “Shanghai Dreamers” campaign from Dior, in which all the Asians are uniform and uniformed clones, all the better to set off and distinguish the Dior-clad white beauty. As Jenny writes of this showdown between the familiar tropes of Chinese collectivism and Western individualism (and the whole post is full of similar win):

In the case of Dior’s ‘Shanghai Dreamers,’ the conformity and the old-fashioned appearance of the rows and rows of repeated Chinese faces and bodies only serve to constitute a visual record of the Western world’s construction and affirmation of self through the racial and cultural other. If Chinese people from a certain era (and to be quite uncharitable, I don’t believe Christian Dior knows what era of Chinese photography and life he is referencing when he says, “My inspiration came from a certain Chinese style of group photography but these ceremonial photographs marks a departure from a certain historical period and herald the future,”) represent how oppressive Chinese society is and how indistinguishable Chinese people are, then it must mean that European and American societies are so free and liberated and individualized!

(EDITED TO ADD: For good measure, Sociological Images has a post examining advertising featuring “undifferentiated groups of Asians as props.”)

Also, greatness can be found in Definatalie’s post, “The best argument against the evidence of democracy in fashion is a conversation with a fat woman,” and Julia’s ultra-smart ruminations on the figure of the black-clad anarchist, as well as the undercover police officer, sparked by the most recent round of G20 Summit protests.

4 Comments

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4 responses to “Return of the Prodigal Blogger

  1. Welcome back! Minh-ha totally held it down locked tight.

    Wasn’t Eclipse scary-bad? It left me with a deeply disturbed inner feeling. Did you hear the anecdote about how in the books Edward is supposed to be ravenously attracted to the scent of Bella’s blood, so at a book signing a 14-year old girl asked Stephanie Meyer what happens when Bella menstruates? Meyer reportedly said, “Ugh! That’s gross!”

    Class. High class.

    • That poor girl! That’s a perfectly reasonable question, frankly; Meyer’s apparent lack of forethought in this very obvious regard is sort of stunning. Eclipse was pretty horrible (though better than the first one, which is the only other one I’ve seen) — I miss the good ol’ days when vampires were polyamorous sexual perverts and not chaste, abstinence-until-marriage Volvo-drivers. Also, these were really not cute vampires; their pallor seemed to be of the “four weeks of stomach flu” variety. But the film did inspire giggles whenever the werewolves (in human form) were on-screen; it is only cut-off shorts that transform, or can regular shorts change into furry pantaloons too?

  2. Yes to what you said about museums in London. When I visited there myself I had the same thoughts – I was wowed by the collections (the Egyptology nerd in me drooled uncontrollably over the Rosetta stone and various sarcophagi), but really depressed at how they got there and the continuing defensiveness about their origins. Did you see the British Museum’s pamphlet on why they refuse to give the Elgin marbles back to Greece? Yikes.

    • Oh god, yes, that pamphlet was truly a wonder. I also like the parts of the placards that say things like, “We saved these statues from looters (by looting them first)!” and “We display them at eye level for the visitor (which wouldn’t be possible if they were still at the Acropolis)!”

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