Wednesday, May 13, 2009

keffiyeh: ignorance at it's finest.

The discussion of the keffiyeh is fascinating. Having first seen the keffiyeh on celebrities such as Kanye West, it was interesting to learn that it was in fact a symbol of Palestinian resistance against Colonialism. It was also very interesting to note the toll this ‘trend’ is taking on the creators of keffiyehs in areas they are produce. They are now made forty percent cheaper in China. Palestinian producers are now worried of losing a viable symbol of their national struggle as a result of mass production. They are trying to cope by adding colors to classic weaves to enhance the product solely for tourists. My knowledge of the keffiyeh has already been shared in hopes of spreading the word. Most people have no idea the implications of this trend and with more advertised knowledge we are closer to solving the problem.

The article, Catalog-ing Ethnicity: Clothing as Cultural Citizenship discusses how catalogues are simply representations of ‘Americanization’. Catalogues are slowly becoming a thing of the past due to the Internet. It is very accurate to say that catalogues such as J. Crew and Abercrombie and Fitch paint an unreachable portrait of “Americans” (or North Americans). All the faces of the models, regardless of race fit a ‘white’ heterosexual cut out. Are catalogues projecting imagery of what American’s see as themselves, or what companies such as J. Crew want their customers to reflect? During my research I was looking at the Abercrombie and Fitch web site. There was an advertisement for “vintage scarves” that are unmistakably replicas of the kuffiyeh. After learning about the symbolism and historical importance attached to the keffiyeh, it is scary how such an established company would have this in their catalogue (of Americanization). It completely goes against the meaning of the keffiyeh and passes it off as an “all American” vintage scarf. Overall, there is a valuable lesson in understanding the significance of certain ‘trend’s before jumping right in to them."

Source: Subbaraman, Sivagami. “Catalog-ing Ethnicity: Clothing as Cultural Citizenship.” Interventions. 1.4. (1999): 72-89.

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