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Patterns of Consumption: Indian Dress and Colonial Society, 1770-1850

Portrait of Capt. John Foote, by Joshua Reynolds, oil on canvas, c. 1765.

In the early days of European colonial rule in India, Europeans communicated cultural identity and authority, both to an Indian population and among themselves, using a sartorial vocabulary. However, India did far more than provide Europeans with new styles of dress, new techniques for textile production, and new raw materials. South Asian material culture and modes of display furnished Europeans with an entirely new idiom of sartorial expression. In this presentation, a close analysis of British portraits and patterns of consumption in India from roughly 1770 to1850 reveals the myriad ways in which the adoption of Indian dress served to create new identities for individual Britons within their own domestic society: as travellers, adventurers, authors, poets or connoisseurs. In doing so, this presentation offers a critique of simplistic binaries between metropolitan and colonial spheres and sheds a critical light on social and class tensions within British society.

When: Thursday November 22, 2018 | 4 – 5 pm
MOA Room 213
Speaker: Tara Mayer, Instructor, Department of History, UBC