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Author Aspelund, Karl
Title Who controls culture? Power, craft and gender in the creation of Icelandic women's national dress
book jacket
Descript 341 p
Note Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 72-06, Section: A, page:
Adviser: Charles Lindholm
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Boston University, 2011
This dissertation is a historical and ethnographic investigation of Icelandic women's national dress. It is based on archival research along with ethnographic fieldwork and interviews of participants in the national dress movement in several locations in Iceland, mainly in 2009 and 2010. It claims that the five "national" costumes represent five distinct facets of Icelandic identity and that these can be placed in three categories: "invented tradition," "refined vernacular," and "revived historical." It shows that they developed in these categories in response to needs presented by nationalistic culture creation, construction of class codes through ethnic dress, and the tension between attachments to local ethnic identities of kinship and internationalized modern modes
The historical account reveals active and transparent dialogue between modernizing globalized western culture and a marginal traditional culture over the course of two centuries. The factionalized Icelanders, resisting international style, struggled to maintain national identity through female symbolism, even while they sought to modernize and assimilate into the dominant European/Danish culture. This ambivalent effort was undertaken by politically-oriented elites in Iceland, as well as among expatriate communities, who engaged in the invention of tradition and culture during the "long nineteenth century" (c. 1790--1914.)
The meaning and position of this highly symbolic and meaningful aspect of Icelandic culture is, as ever, in flux. In the hands of a small network of women, political and nationalistic motivations have given way to underlying kinship identification and communal handcraft practices. A revival of 18th century dress points to re-alignments of cultural emphasis and a turning away from both the nationalistic and modernist programs rooted in the 19th century
The Icelandic case reveals that the motivations driving the dress-practices of the women involved are not necessarily concurrent with those of political and cultural elites, but rather those of kinship, community, and devotion to craft. It also exemplifies issues pursued worldwide: the internal politicizing of "national" imagery appropriated from a people's everyday life by upper-class elites and the complex maintenance of local identity through boundary creation in the face of an overwhelming culture-invasion
School code: 0017
Host Item Dissertation Abstracts International 72-06A
Subject Anthropology, Cultural
Design and Decorative Arts
Scandinavian Studies
Alt Author Boston University
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