Food, Dress, and the Politics of Everyday Colonialism


Panel organizers: Christian Ayne Crouch, Bard College

                             Christina Snyder Indiana University


Commodity exchange characterized the Atlantic world, with products ranging from technology, agricultural items to ideologies, labor, and ephemera moving rapidly across the ocean basin and along indigenous and imperial trade networks into continental interiors. Clothing and comestibles in particular helped individuals from the Americas, Africa, and Europe to articulate, negotiate, and challenge categories of daily life.  And the rich textual and visual sources of the Atlantic Americas that remain from this period depict a contemporary fascination with sartorial and consumptive habits for numerous reasons.  At a broader level, these items also played a critical role in the cultural imaginary of different empires and, later, republics. This panel seeks to bring together different considerations on the politics of food and dress in various colonial contexts in the Americas.  How did the circulation of European, African, or American Indian dress enable the assumption of particular identities and open or foreclose certain actions?  Could textiles imbed imperial aspirations or resistance to colonialism and can scholars read textiles as an alternative text for familiar events?  Control of food facilitated claims to authority among many communities.  In other contexts, edible products extended, limited, or transformed cultural retention and served as means by which to disrupt the everyday.  The panel’s focus on food and dress encourages interdisciplinary methodologies and broadens the range of sources used in reconstruction of this early modern world.  We especially seek the interplay of material culture, literary sources, archival texts, and performance studies in a reconstruction of food and dress as political tools.

Send your 250-word paper abstract to Christian Ayne Crouch at or Christina Snyder at by Friday, September 7, 2012.