MATERIALITY –dress and built environment
Use the readings to discuss the material politics of Olvera Street and the zoot-suit. In contrast to the Anglo Spanish Fantasy and its quaintly traditional craftspeople (Kropp), pachucos were “stewards of something uncomfortable” (Ellison in Cosgrove 1984, 77). Olvera Street was built on an Anglo fantasy of a Mexican past, while covering up a Mexican-American present. The act of wearing the zoot-suit by pachucos was a refusal to conform to Anglo American expectations of assimilation and patriotism. If Olvera Street was characterized by “imperialist nostalgia” (Rosaldo in Kropp 2001, 44), the pachuco was staunchly anti-imperialist. Whereas the former depoliticized public space, the latter repoliticized that space. Reflect upon the complex and contradictory histories behind these material politics. How can racism and resistance to racism be traced and understood through materiality – be it the “softscape” of clothing, or the “hardscape” of the built environment? How do these subaltern subjects (marginalized by their ethnic and national differences) negotiate their identities through dress and the built environment?
Your essay MUST draw directly from the readings by Cosgrove and Kropp. You may also choose to refer to Scott’s discussion of the head scarf (2005), “Why Clothing Is Not Superficial” (Miller, 2010), “Plaza de las Tres Culturas/Plaza of Three Cultures” (Massey, 1999)
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