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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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Three authentic Emberá discontinuities

Three authentic Emberá discontinuities

(p.155) 8 Three authentic Emberá discontinuities
Exoticisation Undressed

Dimitrios Theodossopoulos

Manchester University Press

The chapter explore in detail three examples of discontinuity, authentically embedded in Emberá everyday life. The first example focuses on a ‘traditional’ or ‘indigenous’ item of dress made in Asia specifically for an Emberá audience in Latin America: this is the cloth of the paruma-skirts, a clothing item considered by the Emberá to be an authentic mark of indigeneity. When parumas are combined with modern tops they generate unique indigenous-and-modern dress combinations. The second example follows the members of an Emberá family as they prepare to go to Church in an ‘authentic’ Emberá canoe that excites the author’s misplaced ethnographic nostalgia. Here, the Emberá put aside their indigenous clothes, without putting aside their Emberá identity. Their shift between modern and indigenous dress codes reflects a growing desire among the Emberá to be modern-indigenous people. The third example, unravels ethnographically a mimetic appropriation that represents a reversal of the exoticising gaze: Westerners who put on Emberá clothes, to embody indigeneity—reconstituting the authenticity of the imitation and the imitated.

Keywords:   paruma-skirts, dress codes, ethnographic nostalgia, authenticity, mimetic appropriation, exoticising gaze

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