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Conference 2016

Dressing Global Bodies: 
Clothing Cultures, Politics and Economies in Globalizing Eras, c. 1600s-1900s

7-9 July 2016, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada
Co-Organized with the Pasold Research Fund, UK

The clothes on our backs are intimately connected with bodily experiences, cultural, social and gender portrayals, as well as the economies of fashioning and re-fashioning across place and time. Garments reflect the priorities of local and international economies, collective and personal inclinations, religious norms and conversions. These materialities are shaped by global flows of cloth and beads, furs, ready-made and second-hand apparel, in dynamic processes of fashion exchange. Dress is a charged cultural instrument, as evident in colonial and decolonization processes, social and political agendas, animated by cross-cultural and commercial flows, industrial and institutional innovations.

This international conference will showcase new historical research on the centrality of dress in global, colonial and post-colonial engagements, emphasizing entangled histories, comparative and cross-cultural analyses. This scholarship redefines national and collective communities, in the practice of fashion and the dynamics of re-fashioning and re-use, from the seventeenth through the twentieth century.

A draft programme can be downloaded here.
For more information on the conference, please visit the Conference Website: 

Plenary Speakers:
• Antonia Finnane, Professor, School of Historical & Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne. Author of Changing Clothes in China: Fashion, History, Nation. She will address fashion in Qing/Early Republican China

• Karen Tranberg Hansen, Professor Emerita. Department of Anthropology, Weinberg College of Arts & Sciences, Northwestern University. Author of Salaua: The World of Secondhand Clothing and Zambia. She will address cultures of dress within Global Africa.

• Dana Leibsohn, Priscilla Paine Van der Poel Professor of Art, Department of Art, Smith College. She will address colonial practice, cross-cultural influences in the dress of colonial Spanish America.

Principal Organizers:
Beverly Lemire, Professor & Henry Marshall Tory Chair, Department of History & Classics, University of Alberta
Giorgio Riello, Professor, Department of History and Director, Institute of Advanced Studies, University of Warwick

International & Local Organizing Committee Members:
Anne Bissonnette, Associate Professor & Curator, Department of Human Ecology, University of Alberta
Lisa Claypool, Associate Professor, Department of Art & Design, University of Alberta
Lianne McTavish, Professor, Department of Art & Design, University of Alberta
Ann Salmonson, Masters Candidate, Department of Art & Design, University of Alberta
Ashley Sims, Doctoral Candidate, Department of History & Classics, University of Alberta
Meaghan Walker, Doctoral Candidate, Department of History & Classics, University of Alberta
Sophie White, Associate Professor, Department of American Studies, University of Notre Dame

The University of Alberta is one of the top five research universities in Canada, a public research institution located in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. It serves approximately 40,000 undergraduate and graduate students and holds a variety of major collections, such as the Clothing & Textile Collection and The Mactaggart Art Collection. The former holds more than 23,000 textile and clothing artifacts spanning 350 years, from a variety of cultures. The latter holds more than 1000 pieces of textiles, clothing, hand scrolls and engravings from ancient and modern East Asia.

The City of Edmonton is rich in cultural venues and is the gateway city to the western north. It has a rich indigenous heritage, plus diverse multi-cultural populations, reflected in the food and cultures resident here. The River Valley winds through the city, with parks, trails and extensive public access, including from the University itself. The Art Gallery of Alberta is located in the city centre, linked by public transit. The AGA was designed by architect Randall Stout to reflect the distinctive environment of this northern city.

Edmonton is three hours from the mountains, either Banff National Park or Jasper National Park. To the east is the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Drumheller Dinosaur Provincial Park and the Royal Tyrrell Museum. These are just three of the distinctive natural sites to be found in this region.