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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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Shifting codes of dress

Shifting codes of dress

(p.131) 7 Shifting codes of dress
Exoticisation Undressed

Dimitrios Theodossopoulos

Manchester University Press

The chapter focuses more closely on the dress choices in Parara Puru and the indigenous-and-modern clothes of its inhabitants. It demonstrates that is misleading to assume that Emberá dress codes follow a unidirectional and deculturating progression from indigenous tradition towards Westernising modernity. In communities that entertain tourists, such as Parara Puru, dress choices shift in the course of the day, or in the course of an individual’s lifetime, moving closer to, or further away from, indigenous aesthetics and practices. To convey the fluidity and complexity of local dress codes, the chapter explores dress combinations that bring together ‘modern’ and ‘indigenous’ elements, as well as the adaptation of some traditional clothing items, to accommodate conventional non-indigenous modesty. Attention is paid to the spontaneous, often accidental, re-emergence of old, informal dress styles during non-representational moments in daily life (e.g. after the tourists have departed), during which the Emberá of Parara Puru look as though they have re-emerged from the pages of old books. At this point, the author exposes reflexively his ethnographic nostalgia—evident in his pleasure in seeing cultural patterns from the past re-emerging in the cultural practices of the present.

Keywords:   Emberá dress codes, indigenous-and-modern clothes, ethnographic nostalgia, Parara Puru

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