restricted access Catwalking through Culture: Notes from the 2002 Smithsonian Silk Road Festival

This note examines the 2002 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, entitled "The Silk Road: Creating Culture, Connecting Trust," and focuses specifically on the work of the Central Asian and Japanese fashion designers. I explore how participants and presenters related to one another, considering many were strangers from different countries and social backgrounds when they arrived on the National Mall. The note demonstrates the contested interactions between the various designers and the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (CFCH), particularly between the Japanese group and the CFCH. I posit that the varying agendas of the participants, the festival's principal designer, and the CFCH administration challenged the larger goal of creating a unified pan-Asian identity.