Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Thinking of our project and our oh-so prevalent consumer culture, we need to address the issue of clothing. Clothing plays a huge role in our everyday life, in consumerism and in the fashion world. Clothes are so politically charged that we often do not even consider it in that manner. Yet, time and again, clothing has proved to be such a distinct racial, cultural and ethnic marker that it is difficult to consider it out of that context. In our post 9/11 world, Middle Eastern, Arab and South Asian Muslims and their clothing has specifically become a problem leading to hate crimes at the hands of many extremist groups.
Women with hijab and men with turbans are automatically labeled as “terrorists.” Yet, it became hip to be wearing the keffiyeh, the Palestinian scarves that even appeared in mainstream stores such as Urban Outfitters. As both Maira and Gigi Durham note in their articles, this is commodification of the elements of the “Orient,” by accepting certain aspects of the culture without understanding the politics involved with it. Such appropriation really “…speak to the mutually constitutive categories of the “East” and “West,” recirculating imperialist tropes that have taken shape over many years.” (Gigi Durham) So, when Rachel Ray wears a scarf resembling anything like a keffiyeh in a commercial, it is no longer aired because the company does not want to be supportive of that part of the world, the Palestine or the Middle East in general. Such notions are problematic because a culture is commodified and sold to the public solely for consumption and the public is to accept it blindly without showing any support for the culture or their causes. Clothing, thus, is highly political and has proven to entail serious implications in terms of supporting or rejecting certain ideals.

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