‘“I am an immigrant”: fashion, immigration and frontiers in the contemporary trans-global landscape’

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Abstract

In the light of the Brexit vote, and the recent surge in nationalism and xenophobia in Europe, this article analyses the condition of the immigrant within fashion to pose the question: how can fashion contribute to an understanding of immigration as a constitutive aspect of contemporary society? Considering Brexit as symptomatic of wider political changes that are currently informing other Western countries, the discussion focuses on the reactions of London’s fashion world to the political scenario in Britain. “I am an immigrant” is a statement that has recently appeared in several collections and campaigns, with designers and high street brands publicly airing their pro-immigration messages. The discussion embraces philosophical contributions on the nation-state, sovereignty, and citizenship, and applies the notion of ‘conviviality’, as outlined by Paul Gilroy (2004), to discuss London’s fashion and its reactions to the anti-immigration stance of the pro-Brexit front. It then unravels the idea of national identity as a romantic construct, and analyses works, within fashion, that challenge current perceptions of immigration as well as assumptions about cultural homogeneity. By deconstructing, through fashion, the very idea of national and cultural identity, we can in fact question binary oppositions associated to the category of the immigrant, such as ‘citizen’/’alien’, ‘inside’/’outside’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-35
Number of pages35
JournalFashion Theory - Journal of Dress Body and Culture
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sep 2019

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immigration
immigrant
national identity
xenophobia
cultural identity
political change
nation state
sovereignty
nationalism
Immigration
Immigrants
voter
opposition
citizenship
campaign
scenario
citizen
National Identity

Cite this

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title = "‘“I am an immigrant”: fashion, immigration and frontiers in the contemporary trans-global landscape’",
abstract = "In the light of the Brexit vote, and the recent surge in nationalism and xenophobia in Europe, this article analyses the condition of the immigrant within fashion to pose the question: how can fashion contribute to an understanding of immigration as a constitutive aspect of contemporary society? Considering Brexit as symptomatic of wider political changes that are currently informing other Western countries, the discussion focuses on the reactions of London’s fashion world to the political scenario in Britain. “I am an immigrant” is a statement that has recently appeared in several collections and campaigns, with designers and high street brands publicly airing their pro-immigration messages. The discussion embraces philosophical contributions on the nation-state, sovereignty, and citizenship, and applies the notion of ‘conviviality’, as outlined by Paul Gilroy (2004), to discuss London’s fashion and its reactions to the anti-immigration stance of the pro-Brexit front. It then unravels the idea of national identity as a romantic construct, and analyses works, within fashion, that challenge current perceptions of immigration as well as assumptions about cultural homogeneity. By deconstructing, through fashion, the very idea of national and cultural identity, we can in fact question binary oppositions associated to the category of the immigrant, such as ‘citizen’/’alien’, ‘inside’/’outside’.",
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