The International Politics of Fashion: Being Fab in a Dangerous World, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The International Politics of Fashion

Being Fab in a Dangerous World, 1st Edition

Edited by Andreas Behnke


206 pages | 23 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781138788985
pub: 2016-07-19
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315765082
pub: 2016-07-07
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This book seeks to address and fill a puzzling omission in contemporary critical IR scholarship. Following on from the aesthetic turn in IR, critical and ‘postmodern’ IR has produced an impressive array of studies into movies, literature, music and art and the way these media produce, mediate, and represent international politics. By contrast, the proponents of the aesthetic turn have overlooked fashion as a source of knowledge about global politics.

Yet stories about the political role of fashion abound in the news media. Margaret Thatcher used dress to define her political image, and more recently the fascination with Michelle Obama, Carla Bruni and other women in similar positions, and the discussions about the appropriateness of their wardrobes, regularly makes the news. In Sudan, a female writer and activist successfully challenged the government over her right to wear trousers in public and in Europe, the debate on women’s headscarves has politicised a garment item and turned it into a symbol of fundamentalism and oppression. In response, the contributors to this book investigate the politics of fashion from a variety of perspectives, addressing theoretical as well as empirical issues, establishing the critical study of fashion and its protagonists as a central contribution to the aesthetic turn in international politics.

The politics of fashion go beyond these examples of the uses and abuses of textiles and fabrics for political purposes, extending into its very ‘grammar’ and vocabulary. This book will be a unique contribution to the field and will be of interest to students and scholars of international relations, critical IR theory and popular culture and world politics.


'In many of our scholarly books and articles, international politics appears to take place between and among abstract, fleshless entities without personality or perspective. Focusing on fashion as both a site and a medium of political and social life goes a long way towards addressing this gap and curing this blindness. This collection of insightful essays on the 'enfashioning' that goes on all throughout international affairs is an impressive show indeed!' - Patrick Thaddeus Jackson, Professor of International Studies, School of International Service, American University

'Covering an impressive range of issues and ideas related to all things sartorial, Behnke’s The International Politics of Fashion offers a refreshing refashioning of the interconnections between culture and politics.' - Elspeth Van Veeren, Lecturer in Political Science, University of Bristol

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

Andreas Behnke

2. This is not a Mannequin: Enfashioning Bodies of Resistance

Rosemary E. Shinko

3. The Art of (Un)Dressing Dangerously: The Veil as/and Fashion

M.I. Franklin

4. Fashion Statements: Wearing Trousers in Sudan

Linda Bishai

5. Orientalism Refashioned: "Eastern Moon" in "Western Waters" Reflecting Back on the East China Sea

L.H.M. Ling

6. Un\Dressing the Sovereign: Fashion as Symbolic Form

Andreas Behnke

7. The Evolution of Somali Women’s Fashion During Changing Security Contexts

Mary Hope Schwoebel

8. Margaret Thatcher, Dress and the Politics of Fashion

Daniel Conway

9. Fashion Studies Take(s) on Politics

Hazel Clark and Molly Rottman

About the Editor

Andreas Behnke is Associate Professor in International Political Theory at the University of Reading, UK

About the Series

Popular Culture and World Politics

The Popular Culture World Politics (PCWP) book series is the forum for leading interdisciplinary research that explores the profound and diverse interconnections between popular culture and world politics. It aims to bring further innovation, rigor, and recognition to this emerging sub-field of international relations.

To these ends, the PCWP series is interested in various themes, from the juxtaposition of cultural artefacts that are increasingly global in scope and regional, local and domestic forms of production, distribution and consumption; to the confrontations between cultural life and global political, social, and economic forces; to the new or emergent forms of politics that result from the rescaling or internationalization of popular culture.

Similarly, the PCWP series wishes to provide a venue for work that explores the effects of new technologies and new media on established practices of representation and the making of political meaning. It encourages engagement with popular culture as a means for contesting powerful narratives of particular events and political settlements as well as explorations of the ways that popular culture informs mainstream political discourse. The PCWP series promotes investigation into how popular culture contributes to changing perceptions of time, space, scale, identity, and participation while establishing the outer limits of what is popularly understood as ‘political’ or ‘cultural’.

In addition to film, television, literature, and art, the PCWP series actively encourages research into diverse artefacts including sound, music, food cultures, gaming, design, architecture, programming, leisure, sport, fandom and celebrity. The series is fiercely pluralist in its approaches to the study of popular culture and world politics and is interested in the past, present, and future cultural dimensions of hegemony, resistance and power.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / History & Theory
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General