Bayart on Dressing the Part


The versatility of clothing makes it a preferred means for constructing and negotiating identities; not only individual identities (just think of a teenager’s anxieties when choosing clothes!), but also collective ones. Clothes make the man, and political actors are well aware of this…. As for the military dictators of the twentieth century, they often thought that it sufficed to appear on television in a three-piece suit in order to civilise their regimes and reassure public opinion. One might say, again parodying the French title of J. L. Austin’s book How to Do Things with Words, ‘Dressing is doing.’ (195-6)

[This is one of an ongoing series of posts, quoting from Bayart’s The Illusion of Cultural Identity, that further documents the theoretical basis
on which Culture on the Edge is working.]