Fashion, Performance, Race
Indiana University Press 2014
Sean Metzger‘s Chinese Looks: Fashion, Performance, Race (Indiana University Press 2014),examines how, in the past 150 years, China was rendered legible to Americans through items of clothing and adornment. Professor Metzger offers a rich and detailed study of Chinese fashion, calling it the “Sino/American interface” that marks political and cultural investments in America’s views of China and Chinese Americans. Professor Metzger does this by providing a cinematic and performance-based cultural history of four iconic objects: the queue, or man’s hair braid; the woman’s suit or the qipao; the Mao suit; and the tuxedo. Rather than simply provide a consumptive or trading history of these garments, professor Metzger traces their emergence as consolidating discourses of gender, race, politics and aesthetics. In doing so, he asks larger questions about how garments can and have been used to express ethnicity, and to render new meanings onto racialized bodies.