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Exoticisation UndressedEthnographic Nostalgia and Authenticity in Emberá Clothes$
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Dimitrios Theodossopoulos

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781526100832

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526100832.001.0001

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A story about Emberá clothes

A story about Emberá clothes

(p.49) 3 A story about Emberá clothes
Exoticisation Undressed

Dimitrios Theodossopoulos

Manchester University Press

The chapter tells one among many possible stories of social change in Emberá society—one account of Emberá social history in Panama. Here the uniting thread is the changing Emberá dress codes. Until the last quarter of the twentieth century, the Emberá lived in dispersed settlement; they dressed in (what they describe now) as ‘traditional’ clothes. Later, they founded nucleated communities and reorganised their political representation. As they formalised their relationship with the state they started to rely more heavily on Western mass-manufactured clothing. More recently, we can recognise a third emergent stage of increased national and international visibility, which has led to the re-valorisation of Emberá dress through indigenous tourism. In later chapters I challenge the linearity of this sequence of transformations—and the misplaced assumption that they move in a single direction from tradition to modernity.

Keywords:   Emberá dress codes, Emberá social history, social change, indigenous tourism, Panama

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