CFP: Textiles in the Indian Ocean World @ McGill University

“Textile Trades and Consumption in the Indian Ocean World, from Early
Times to the Present”

Indian Ocean World Centre (IOWC)
McGill University, Montreal, Canada
2-4 November 2012

Co-Organisers: Gwyn Campbell (IOWC, McGill University), Sarah Fee (Royal
Ontario Museum), and Pedro Machado (Indiana University)

This multi-disciplinary international conference aims to bring together
scholars from across the humanities and social sciences to share findings,
methodologies and theoretical perspectives on cloth’s critical role in
driving exchanges in the Indian Ocean World from early times to the present

Oceans have emerged as promising intellectual frameworks for reinterpreting
past and present spatial and temporal constructs. The Indian Ocean World
(IOW) in particular has recently attracted academic attention as a space of
movement and inter-relation that transcends conventional paradigms centring
on the nation state, regional studies, and European empires. Stretching from
East Africa through the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia to China, the
IOW forms a unique macro-region where the monsoon regime of winds and
currents largely moulded production and exchange. Indeed, the IOW emerged
during the first millennium CE as arguably the first “global” economy,
defined as a sophisticated and durable system of long-distance exchange.
There is further debate as to the impact on the IOW trading structure of
Europeans from the sixteenth century, the international economy of the
nineteenth century, European colonialism and its aftermath, and modern

Central to these debates is the role of textiles. For centuries, cloths of
various origins, fibres, colours and patterns have been carried along coasts
and across vast distances to communities that demanded certain types in
accordance with their specific cultural, social and political universes.
Rather than take a particular fibre, ‘country’ or European company as the
unit of study, this conference aims to explore the broader cross-currents of
textile flows in the IOW. It seeks to explore, in particular, structures of
trade, distribution, demand, marketing and consumption – in all of which
finance and credit played vital roles. It also strives to understand local
consumer demand as a vital force in shaping the economic, political, social,
and artistic history in both producer and consumer communities. Emerging
from the wider scholarship of culturally inflected material histories of the
movement and exchange of commodities, the study of textile consumption and
the logics of consumer tastes, as socially and culturally embedded
processes, can offer compelling insight into how societies, communities and
people create and maintain identities through strategies of self-fashioning,
and thereby shape the world around them. Moreover, it is when studied within
the same analytical frame as the production, distribution and marketing of
textiles that consumption can contribute most profoundly to an understanding
of the dynamics of the worlds of the Indian Ocean stretching from Africa to
East Asia.

This multi-disciplinary international conference invites paper proposals
that examine any aspect of the trade, exchange and consumption of textiles in
the Indian Ocean world from early times to the present day. We particularly
welcome papers that explore networks and structures of:

– local finance and credit
– distribution and marketing
– demand and consumption

and within these the significance of (i) gender and age; and (ii) religious
practice and ideology  (including the ritual, political and social uses and
meanings attached to imported cloth)

Dates and Registration:
•  Deadline for submission of abstracts (title; 1-2 paragraphs): 30
September 2011.
• The review process will be completed by 1st November 2001.
•  Papers selected for the conference must be submitted no later than
1st September 2012.
•  The registration fee is $175 US ($75 US for students) payable by
1st September 2012.
•  The late registration fee (after 1st September 2012) is $200 US and $100
US for students

Kindly contact Sarah Fee <> or Pedro Machado
<> with proposals (or with any queries).


Author: Camara Dia Holloway

I am an art historian specializing in early twentieth century American art with particular focus on the history of photography, race and representation, and transatlantic modernist networks. I earned my PhD at Yale University in the History of Art Department. Besides my leadership role as the Founding Co-Director of the Association for Critical Race Art History (ACRAH), I am recognized for my expertise on African American Art, particularly African American Photography, and as a seasoned consultant for exhibitions, museum collections, and symposia/lectures planning.

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