This course analyzes the relationship between fashion and politics in Cuba and the former state socialist regimes of the Soviet Bloc during the Cold War. It presents fashion as both an instrument of power and a critique and vehicle of political change. Mainly characterized by state ownership of the means of production, centralized planning, and communist party rule, Soviet Bloc regimes understood fashion as a capitalist phenomenon. In consequence, their officials devised strategies to transform people’s sartorial aspirations and daily practices, the consequences of which extend to the post-Soviet present. Beginning with an introduction to material culture and fashion studies, the course proceeds to an examination of the ways in which state socialist regimes manipulated fashion to legitimize their power, followed by an examination of the sartorial practices citizens developed to assimilated, adapted, and resist domination. Students will engage with literature from the humanities and social science disciplines, documentaries, and online and social media materials.
Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)