1st Edition

The International Politics of Fashion Being Fab in a Dangerous World

Edited By Andreas Behnke Copyright 2017
    222 Pages
    by Routledge

    222 Pages 23 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    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.

    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


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

    '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