The panel explores the multitude of meanings and functions of national folk clothes in modern festive and everyday life. Their potential to preserve cultural heritage, to make the identity explicit in various ethnographic and religious contexts will be at the center of the discussion.
Traditional costume is one of the most vibrant elements of cultural heritage and is regarded by ethnologists (Piotr Bogatyrev) as a semiotic system carrying explicit social, gender, age differences. In traditional societies it is highly restricted in its festive and everyday usage and correlates with its magic and symbolic properties. Folk dress is an important sign of festive behavior. In modern societies some ethnic groups still wear their national costumes in attempt to preserve cultural heritage and oppose globalization, revealing an "us/them" divide. Meanwhile national dress develops new social functions and often emphasizes political identity issues and commercial purposes (local tourist ethnographic performances, folk festivals). Many traditional costumes and typical elements of it (skirts/kilts, hats, belts, ornaments) have become fashionable items and spread internationally.
This panel's aim is to analyze changes in the symbolism and functions of folk costume as used in the festive calendar year and in everyday life across various traditions. The following themes could be addressed:
- Traditional costumes worn for calendric festivals and other feasts as a means of maintaining heritage: case studies from the 21st century ethnography.
- Special national costumes for role-playing reconstruction games, performances and local tourist attractions.
- Traditional clothing as a type of festive behavior.
- Attitudes towards wearing national costumes during different political and ideological regimes.
- Folk costume as a marker of ethnicity and independence in political discourse.
- Folk costume and fashion: ornaments and items of clothes as expression of native and foreign culture.