Tanisha Ford “The Politics of Style: Black Women, Social Movements, and Global Fashion Economies”

April 29, 2016
12:00 pmto1:30 pm

Knight Library
Browsing Room
1501 Kincaid St.

“The Politics of Style: Black Women, Social Movements, and Global Fashion Economies” is the title of a public lecture being offered by Professor Tanisha Ford at noon on Friday, April 29, 2016, in the Knight Library Browsing Room on the University of Oregon campus. Professor Ford will draw the talk from her new book Liberated Threads: Black Women, Style, and the Global Politics of Soul (UNC Press, 2015). Her visit is possible through the generous support of the Department of English, the Center for the Study of Women in Society, the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, the College Scholars Program, the CSWS Women of Color Project, the Office of Equity and Inclusion, the Office of the Provost and Academic Affairs, and the Department of Ethnic Studies.

Liberated ThreasTanisha Ford is an assistant professor of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her book Liberated Threads uncovers how and why black women use beauty culture and fashion as a form of resistance and cultural-political expression. From the Civil Rights and Black Power era of the 1960s through antiapartheid activism in the 1980s and beyond, black women have used their clothing, hair, and style not simply as a fashion statement but as a powerful tool of resistance. Whether using stiletto heels as weapons to protect against police attacks or incorporating African-themed designs into everyday wear, these fashion-forward women celebrated their identities and pushed for equality. In this thought-provoking book, Ford explores how and why black women in places as far-flung as New York City, Atlanta, London, and Johannesburg incorporated style and beauty culture into their activism. Focusing on the emergence of the “soul style” movement—represented in clothing, jewelry, hairstyles, and more—Liberated Threads shows that black women’s fashion choices became galvanizing symbols of gender and political liberation. Drawing from an eclectic archive, Ford offers a new way of studying how black style and Soul Power moved beyond national boundaries, sparking a global fashion phenomenon. Following celebrities, models, college students, and everyday women as they moved through fashion boutiques, beauty salons, and record stores, Ford narrates the fascinating intertwining histories of Black Freedom and fashion.

Professor Ford’s other publications have grappled with issues of race, gender and representation in popular culture; African fashion, labor, and economics in the age of social media; and hip hop culture and social activism. Her writing and cultural commentary has been featured in media outlets and publications including the The RootThe New Yorker, NPR: Code SwitchFuseNews One, New York City’s HOT 97, The Feminist WireVibe VixenFeministing,  New Black ManJournal of Southern HistoryOAH Magazine of History, and Black Camera.

Read Professor Ford’s article “SNCC Women, Denim, and the Politics of Dress.”

Organized by Courtney Thorsson, associate professor, UO Department of English.