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The Birth of Cool: Style Narratives of the African Diaspora (Materializing Culture)
Synopses & Reviews
From the zoot suit and Black dandy through to Rastafarianism and beyond, black style has had a profound influence on the history of dress in the twentieth century. Yet despite this high profile, the dress styles worn by men and women of the African diaspora have received scant attention, even though the culture itself has been widely documented from historical, sociological and political perspectives.
Focusing on counter- and sub-cultural contexts, this book investigates the role of dress in the creation and assertion of black identity.
From the home-dressmaking of Jamaican women, through to the Harlem Renaissance and contemporary streetstyles such as Hip Hop and Raggamuffin, black Britons, African Americans and Jamaicans have been at the forefront of establishing a variety of black identities. In their search for a self-image that expresses their diaspora experience, members of these groups have embraced the cultural shapers of modernity and postmodernity in their dress.
Drawing on materials from the United States, Britain and Jamaica, this book fills a gap in both the history of black culture and the history of dress, which has until recently focused on high fashion in Europe. It is a powerful exploration of how dress both initiates and confirms change, and the ways in which it expressed identity and resistance in black culture.
About the Author
Carol Tulloch is Curator of the National Museum and Archives of Black History and Culture, London.
Table of Contents
Angel in the Market Place: The African-Jamaican Higgler'All of Me': Billie Holiday
Lasting Impressions: Harlem, Portraiture and Newness
Strawberries and Cream: Dress, Migration and the Quintessence of Englishness
My Man Let Me Pull Your Coat to Something: Malcolm X
Beyond the Frame: Hair, Headwraps and Identity
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