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Eni Bankole-Race (Royal College of Art)
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- Tuesday 15 September, 13:00-14:30
Author:Elena Sims Fejdi (University of East London)
Paper short abstract:
In this paper I explore how cosmetics move from the sphere of commodity exchange into the sphere of gift-like valuables through the process of ritualization.
Paper long abstract:
In the environment of direct sales cosmetics collectives of women in contemporary Slovakia created and maintained their morality of sharing through re-contextualizing cosmetics into ritual valuables. Through collective cosmetic rituals cosmetics purchasers and representatives alike adopted a number of strategies by which they transformed the purely monetary commodity transactions and competition for profits into collectivising gift-like exchange that was invested with meanings of a morality of cooperation and commitment to the collective. By means of such ritualized re-contextualization of cosmetics ritual participants secured their equal distribution. Consequently, the collectively sanctioned shared distribution of cosmetics operated as one of the levelling mechanisms within the ritually established female collectives.
I use the concepts of spheres of exchange (Bohannan, 1955; Sillitoe, 2006), transactional orders (Parry, Bloch, 1989) and ritualization (Dissanayake 2009) to interpret the re-contextualization of cosmetics and the morality of their exchange. I focus on the practices that the ritual participants used to demonstrate their commitment to their collective. I show that collectivized ritual distribution of cosmetics is one of the means that facilitates and maintains the egalitarian relationships among the ritually bonded cosmetic purchasers.
Instead of seeing purchasing of cosmetics as an individualistic competitive practice this paper shows their collectivising and levelling potential once they have become gift-like valuables.
In my presentation I first discuss the strategies of ritual re-contextualization adopted by the cosmetics purchasers. Then I look at the morality of the collective gift-like exchange of cosmetics. Finally, I show how this morality is regularly tested in collective cosmetic rituals.
Author:Eni Bankole-Race (Royal College of Art)
Paper short abstract:
This paper investigates the evolution of folded cloth in Yoruba diasporic life/usage. I analogise folded cloth the prototypical mode of wearing cloth among the Yoruba with the complex inner wisdom of Yoruba culture the multilayered meanings of everyday attire/speech in diasporic contexts and usage
Paper long abstract:
This paper investigates the evolution of folded cloth in Yoruba diasporic life/usage. I analogise folded cloth, the prototypical mode of wearing cloth among the Yoruba, with the complex 'inner wisdom' of Yoruba culture - the multi- layered meanings of ostensibly everyday attire and speech in diasporic contexts and usage.
'Fold over folds: such is the status of the two modes of perception, or of microscopic and macroscopic processes. That is why the unfolded surface is never the opposite of the fold, but rather the movement that goes from some to the others.'
Culture is a multi-faceted spiral, each layer revealing new perspectives even if only of apparently already known and quantified vistas, while leading gently but inexorably towards newer ideas.
Culture must contain an inherent dynamism and flexibility in order to withstand the vagaries of time, dislocations and dispossession and an ability to incorporate the natural evolution of new and/or imposed knowledge and progress.
Whether the intimate folds of an iro preparatory to its tucking in on the appropriate side, the symbolism of the act of 'setting' an agbada 'sleeve' or the origami intricacies of a gele, the Yoruba have traditionally used the art of folded cloth to express sensibilities and opposition.
How does this understanding translate in the translocation - Stories/cloth with meanings within meanings/ a need to hold on to one's heritage while participating robustly in (and possibly influencing) the aesthetic milieu to which migration has transported one.