Sartorial culture in Bangladesh. Institute on Infusing South Asia into the Undergraduate Curriculum East-West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii Dr. Angela R. Demovic, Assistant Professor of Anthopology Wichita State University Thanks to photographer Ziaul Haq for permission to use his images.
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Institute on Infusing South Asia into the Undergraduate Curriculum
East-West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii
Dr. Angela R. Demovic, Assistant Professor of Anthopology
Wichita State University
Thanks to photographer Ziaul Haq for permission to use his images
Burqa and Shalwar, Jeans and Sari - Changing Fashions on the Streets of Dhaka (in “Society” on the 19th of October 2009)http://www.demotix.com/news/163007/burqa-and-shalwar-jeans-and-sari-changing-fashions-streets-dhaka
Why the Question of Women’s Dress in Bangladesh?
Unless specifically asked about another garment, responses about what sorts of dress particular informants choose, when, and why have focused overwhelmingly on the sari. Interviews with Bangladeshi women have elicited a detailed list of the appropriate color and style of sari to wear on various holidays, both religious and secular. The sari is also an important symbol of a woman’s life stage.
Widowhood and the white sari
Part I: What have Bangladeshi Women Told ME so far?
Georg Simmel “Fashion, Adornment and Style” in Simmel on Culture: Selected Writings
Eds. David Frisby and Mike Featherstone
London, SAGE Publications Ltd.
(available on Google books)
(My Significant “Other” and a cousin)
Chatterjee, Partha “Colonialism, Nationalism, and Colonialized Women: The Contest in India.” American Ethnologist,Vol. 16, No. 4 (Nov., 1989), pp. 622-633
Thapar-Björkert, Suruchi; Ryan, Louise. “Mother India/Mother Ireland: Comparative Gendered Dialogues of Colonialism and Nationalism in the Early 20th Century.” Women’s Studies International Forum v. 25 no. 3 (May/June 2002) p. 301-13.
Mukhopadhyay, Bhudev. “Lajjā – śīlatā” (Modesty), In Bhȗdev-racanāsambhār, Pramathanath, ed. Calcutta. 1969. Mitra and Ghosh.
Mukhopadhyay discusses Lajjā – śīlatā, a quality of “modesty” which he says is spiritual, is more cultivated and cherished by women than by men, and which necessitates a difference in the manner/degree of Westernization for men and women
Ghar and bāhir : the home and the world
“In the world, imitation of and adaptation to Western norms was a necessity, at home, they were tantamount to annihilation of one’s very identity.” (Chatterjee 1989:624)
“To ridicule the idea of a Bengali woman (in the first half of the 19th century) trying to imitate the ways of a memsāheb… was a sure recipe calculated to evoke raucous laughter and moral condemnation in both male and female audiences. It was… a criticism of manners, of new items of clothing… of the use of Western cosmetics and jewelry, of the reading of novels… What made the ridicule stronger was the constant suggestion that the Westernized woman was fond of useless luxury and cared little for the well-being of the home.” (Chatterjee 1989:625)
Borthwick, Meredith. 1984. The Changing Roles of Women in Bengal 1849-1905. Princeton, N.J. Princeton University Press.
Chatterjee, Partha. Nationalist Thought in the Colonial World. London: Zed Books.
Ghosh, Srabashi. 1986. “Birds in a Cage: Changes in Bengali Social Life as Recorded in Autobiographies by Women.” Economic and Political Weekly: Review of Women’s Studies (October) pp 88-96.
Urban upper middle-class men overwhelming choose Western clothing, a legacy of the same history of dress and Nationalist notions of men’s and women’s roles.
Note the dress of Mohammad Yunnus, (founder of Grameen Bank), compared to other men pictured below. Some men choose more traditional forms of dress, particularly for festivals. Compare these choices to the ideas about the meaning behind differences in dress of Gandhi and Ambedkar introduced in Dr. Ananya Vajpeyi’s lecture.
Chakrabarti and the “self-ification” of the “Other” –
Project: Have students think about dress and habitus in their own lives. Are there parallels to this in American dress? What influence does history have over determining women’s dress? Does mobility require sartorial negotiation?
Anna Bigelow’s discussion of “multireligious devotion” – Bangladeshi women’s culture is very syncretic in nature. There is a “shared religious culture,” which includes many preIslamic rituals in women’s lives (ex. marriage ritual, rice rituals based in Lokkhi worship). Tie this in to Vrinda Dalmiya’s lecture on “Environment, Gender and Science.” Why do authors talk about preserving these preIslamic rituals in terms of “sustainability?”
Rozario, Santi and Samuel, Geoffrey. “Gender, Religious Change and Sustainability in Bangladesh. Women’s Studies International Forum, Vol 33, Issue 4, July-August 2010, Pages 354-364.)
Reading: Rozario, Santi “The new burqa in Bangladesh: Empowerment or violation of women's rights?” Women’s Studies International Forum, Volume 29, Issue 4, July-August 2006, Pps 368-380