Patterns In Circulation: Cloth, Gender, And Materiality In West Africa

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In this book, Nina Sylvanus tells a captivating story of global trade and cross-cultural aesthetics in West Africa, showing how a group of Togolese women—through the making and circulation of wax cloth—became influential agents of taste and history. Traveling deep into the shifting terrain of textile manufacture, design, and trade, she follows wax cloth around the world and through time to unveil ...

Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 1 edition (December 6, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 022639722X
ISBN-13: 978-0226397221
Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 9 inches
Amazon Rank: 1658589
Format: PDF ePub fb2 djvu book

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Nina Sylvanus covers a lot of ground in her fascinating book on women cloth traders - the material feeling of wearing certain textiles, the history of Dutch wax prints in West Africa, the rise of the wealthy "Nana Benz," and more recently their displ...

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l role in colonial and postcolonial patterns of exchange and value production.Sylvanus brings wax cloth’s unique and complex history to light: born as a nineteenth-century Dutch colonial effort to copy Javanese batik cloth for Southeast Asian markets, it was reborn as a status marker that has dominated the visual economy of West African markets. Although most wax cloth is produced in China today, it continues to be central to the expression of West African women’s identity and power. As Sylvanus shows, wax cloth expresses more than this global motion of goods, capital, aesthetics, and labor—it is a form of archive where intimate and national memories are stored, always ready to be reanimated by human touch. By uncovering this crucial aspect of West African material culture, she enriches our understanding of global trade, the mutual negotiations that drive it, and the how these create different forms of agency and subjectivity.