Sunday, February 21, 2010

It's hip to be Asian Blog #8 Stephen Dimal

In Parminder Bhachu's article "It's hip to be Asian" the author brings up how South Asian fashion and culture is now being culturally accepted in London specifically through the salwaar-kameez. With any form of transnational movements there is often a fine line between appreciation of culture and exploitation of culture and that is what I was thinking about in reading this article. Bhachu mentions that "in these mutually influential processes of multi-faceted cultural expressions- women are central interpreters of these cultural and consumer styles. These niches have moved beyond 'ethnic' boundaries to the 'british mainstream' and, through a facet of the 'asianization' of the west...impacting British asians" (Bhachu p. 252). This quote is interesting because it discusses how women, through their use of the salwaar-kameez have now moved from being perpetually foreign to being culturally assimilated into the British mainstream. What is most empowering is the fact that not only are South Asian women assimilating into British culture, but British culture is also assimilating to accommodate South Asian culture as a part of British culture. The one question that I am left to deal with is how do those who live in South Asia feel about the use of their traditional clothing within British Culture? I feel that because of the popularity of this South Asian culture, it will help in the growth and development of British Asians who do not have to feel ashamed of their home culture because of its wide acceptance within British culture.
In this image is a traditional embroidered salwar-kameez and one can see how it is very fashionable and can still be modified more to become more modern. The rapid acceptance of the south asian attire was aided by its usage in popular culture by Princess Diana and Madonna.

Here is Madonna in a version of the Salwaar-kameez. In terms of the salwaar-kameez, many people have discussed whether or not it is a positive or negative thing that the Salwaar Kameez has been so successful in mainstream fashion. In an article by Virinder Kalra and John Hutnyk titled "Brimful of agitation, authenticity and appropriation: Madonna's Asian Kool," they discuss how "Madonna shares her interest in thing exotic, oriental and easy to "other" with, for example, the British popsters Kula Shakar" (Kalra and Hutnyk). It is a tough balance to find cultural acceptance for many Asians attempting to assimilate, but it is difficult when others take our culture and use it for their own success without actually allowing Asians to truly define how to use "Asian culture."


In terms of the compact challenge, it has been tough to not buy things especially when a company "Crooks and Castles" (which is designed by filipinos) was having a 50% to 70% off sale. It is difficult to not purchase clothes that usually cost a lot of money when they are on sale, however I was able to resist because I realized that I really didn't need any of the clothes that were on sale.

Works Cited:


Articles: Kalra, Virinder, and John Hutnyk. "Brimful of agitation, authenticity, and appropriation: Madonna's 'Asian Kool'." Postcolonial Studies. 1.3 (1998): 339-355. Print.

Bhachu, Parminder. "It's hip to be Asian: The local and global networks of Asian fashion entrepreneurs in London." Transnational Spaces. ed. Steven Vertovec. New York: Routledge Publishing, 2004. 40-59.

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