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Couture and Consensus

Fashion and Politics in Postcolonial Argentina

Regina A. Root

Publication Year: 2010

Following Argentina’s revolution in 1810, the dress of young patriots inspired a nation and distanced its politics from the relics of Spanish colonialism. Fashion writing often escaped the notice of authorities, allowing authors to masquerade political ideas under the guise of frivolity and entertainment. In Couture and Consensus, Regina A. Root maps this pivotal and overlooked facet of Argentine cultural history, showing how politics emerged from dress to disrupt authoritarian practices and stimulate creativity in a newly independent nation.
Drawing from genres as diverse as fiction, poetry, songs, and fashion magazines, Root offers a sartorial history that produces an original understanding of how Argentina forged its identity during the regime of Juan Manuel de Rosas (1829–1852), a critical historical time. Couture and Consensus closely analyzes military uniforms, women’s dress, and the novels of the era to reveal fashion’s role in advancing an agenda and disseminating political goals, notions Root connects to the contemporary moment.
An insightful presentation of the discourse of fashion, Couture and Consensus also paints a riveting portrait of Argentine society in the nineteenth century—its politics, people, and creative forces.

Published by: University of Minnesota Press

Series: Cultural Studies of the Americas

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-9

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pp. ix-xi

While I was a scholar in residence at the Argentine National Library, the kind attention of former director Héctor Yanover, Ignacio Martín Cloppet, Agustina Ganglof, Silvia Ganglof, and Hugo Acevedo allowed me to spend almost two years culling through that library’s special collections. Colleagues at the Centro de Estudios de la Moda,...

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INTRODUCTION: Interrogating Fashion

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pp. xiii-xxx

At the height of the protests in economically devastated Argentina, on December 20, 2001, several prominent authors waited in front of television cameras at the Clásica y Moderna bookstore in Buenos Aires for a special cultural event organized by the...

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1. Uniform Consensus

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pp. 1-33

In the political allegory by Esteban Echeverría, “El matadero” (“The Slaughterhouse”), knife-wielding butchers reminiscent of some of Goya’s more monstrous ghouls overpower an elegantly dressed gentleman. Because of his European-style costume...

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2. Dressed to Kill

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pp. 35-60

Through the lens of dress, we can unravel some of the every day transactions inflected with the burdens of the colonial order and the formation of citizen-subjects in the River Plate region. It can also bring us closer to “dreams full of history, of known...

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3. Fashion as Presence

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pp. 61-94

As a profoundly social process, fashion invites individual and collective bodies to assume certain identities and, at times, to transgress their limits. At a moment when the obligatory scarlet insignia ordered and unified all under the pledge of Federal...

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4. Fashion Writing

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pp. 95-124

Clothing has functions so apparent that they become easily dismissed, trivialized, or forgotten. But the same coat that keeps out the elements can also distinguish one’s social class and political affinities. In postcolonial Argentina, several influential writers...

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5. Searching for Female Emancipation

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pp. 125-147

One day, a young romance writer who has lost his place to urban expansion in Buenos Aires overhears this intimate conversation coming from another bedroom in an all-women’s residence hall. An “invisible houseguest” in Madame Bazan’s boardinghouse...

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EPILOGUE: Counter–Couture

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pp. 149-161

A few years into the twenty-first century, a walk in downtown Buenos Aires on a summer afternoon reveals a trend for solidarity-inspired styles.1 The relaxed fashions of today contrast sharply with those of previous decades, when strict codes imposed...


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pp. 163-201


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pp. 203-221

About the Author, Further Reading

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pp. 223-224

E-ISBN-13: 9780816673339
E-ISBN-10: 0816673330
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816647941

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: Cultural Studies of the Americas