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AFashionStudiesManifesto_TowardAn(Inter)disciplinaryField_BenBarryAlisonMatthewsDavid_StateOfTheField_FashionStudies_2023.pdf (2.85 MB)

A Fashion Studies Manifesto: Toward an (Inter)disciplinary Field

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journal contribution
posted on 2024-03-06, 20:33 authored by Ben Barry, Alison Matthews DavidAlison Matthews David

We are two scholars who locate ourselves within Fashion Studies and outside of it. In this paper, we draw from our professional experiences and research programs to argue that Fashion Studies should be both a stand-alone and a cross-disciplinary field. Fashion provides a lens to understand the social, visual, and material worlds, while Fashion Studies fosters community among scholars who are deeply “invested” in the study of dress, adornment, and the body. First, framing our discussion through autoethnographic and embodied lenses allows us to how examine how we came into Fashion Studies. Our academic backgrounds are outside of Fashion Studies, but these routes led us to become faculty within a fashion department and inspired our work in building a diverse Fashion Studies community. Second, we explore our research programs as examples of how scholars in our field have to strategically position themselves. The federal grant system in Canada, where we live and work, does not recognize Fashion Studies. As such, we have made the case that fashion is a lens to advance new knowledge in History and Sociology, established disciplines recognized by granting agencies. We discuss how we made this case in our applications, discussing how Fashion Studies’ frameworks, methodologies, and tools of mobilization have allowed us to contribute to a range of disciplines. Finally, we discuss the need for Fashion Studies to welcome scholars who recognize diverse ways of knowing in order to decolonize, queer, and crip the field. The global pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the climate change crisis have alerted us to the urgency of the need for care, communication, and community. We discuss how we have supported graduate students from diverse intersections as Fashion Studies scholars and those from established fields. We ask how we can continue to create spaces for questioning and reflection to ensure that the powerful voices of the next generation of scholars and creatives in the field we love will be heard loud and clear.

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