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45 EXPLAINING THE ORIGIN OF THE MOLA BLOUSE T he concept of cultural authentication has been used to explain the process of the evolution of distinctive forms of non-Western dress. The origin of the mola blouse can be understood by studying research from a number of fields, including history, ethnology, anthropology, dress studies, linguistics , and cultural studies, and applying the concept of cultural authentication. This book is the first research to provide an explanation of the processes involved in the development of the mola as an item of non-Western dress. Later in the book, I link this authentication with the maintenance of the unique identity of the Kuna people. the concept of cultur al authentication The concept of cultural authentication as an explanation for the development of dress was described by Eicher and Erekosima, in particular as a theoretical construct “as a basis of distinguishing non-Western from Western dress.”1 The consideration of cultural authenticity as a creative, transformative process was initially proposed as a result of the study of the manipulation of Western trade cloth by the Kalabari people of Nigeria.2 This approach has received strong support from scholars studying dress history,3 and this book provides evidence for its application as an explanation for the development of the mola. The cultural authentication process is divided into four parts or steps by Eicher and Erekosima, who assert that when examining the breakdown of the authentication process in this way, items of dress that appear to be the adoption of Western dress may be found to have been reinvented as an indigenous item. Thus the term cultural authentication is specifically defined as “the process of assimilating an artifact or idea external to a culture by accommodative change into a valued indigenous object or idea.”4 Other scholars have developed the concept and expanded the idea so that it may be considered to be the process by which an outside aesthetic influence is integrated into and becomes a part of an existing style tradition. . . Stress is placed within the theory of cultural authentication on the importance of the creative transformation of borrowed artifacts by the accepting culture as a means of internalizing the outside influence.5 This definition parallels and supports the concept of glocalization (or dochaku) mentioned in the introduction. By structurally altering Western trade cloth, an indigenous people, such chapter one Introduction 46 Chapter One as the Kuna Indians, are actively confirming their own aesthetic preferences and distinguishing and separating themselves from Western preferences. Berlo asserts that the indigenous women are “the agents of transformation. . . . They incorporate otherness and make it indigenous.”6 Miller supports this view in the introduction to Clothing as Material Culture, where he refers to “tearing, shredding, reconfiguring and transforming the potential of fibre and textile as it moves from one context to another” as a way for a non-Western indigenous group to negotiate their relationship with Western influence.7 The structural alteration of trade cloth may be considered “one of the means by which they seek to ‘tame’ the influence of missionaries and others and make this influence more appropriate to local sensibilities and customs.”8 The evolution of Kuna mola blouses can be explained by the process of cultural authentication, and once the mola blouse had become a part of the Kuna woman’s dress ensemble, it continued to be influenced by Western fashion in terms of the materials chosen, the size and shape of the blouse, and the motifs used on the mola panels. components of cultur al authentication The four steps, as outlined by Eicher and Erekosima, for the cultural authentication process are selection, characterization, incorporation, and transformation.9 Each sequential step is interrelated and leads to the development of a new form of cloth, which then becomes part of indigenous dress. The steps are described as follows: Step 1  “A particular external cultural practice or product is selected as appropriate and desirable by members of another culture out of an almost unlimited number of other cultural options or offerings.” This step may involve selection of a Western item of dress with a change of use of the item. Step 2  “The selected item is characterized in some symbolic form within the meaning reference-frame of the receiving society. The item may be renamed by members of the culture, in their own language, choosing the item or process or translating in any other expressive form into the mapping system of order by which the members of...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780826357076
Related ISBN
9780826357069
MARC Record
OCLC
936687675
Pages
288
Launched on MUSE
2016-08-12
Language
English
Open Access
No
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