14. March 2023

CfP: Fashion and Slavery CfP: Contributions to a Special Issue of Journal of Global Slavery

Contributions to a Special Issue of Journal of Global Slavery

Without an analysis of enslavement at the very centre of its operation, can the study of fashion ever really be critical? Can it contemplate how fashion commodities, communication, and experience actually contribute to our cultural life?

For this Special Issue, we invite submissions of 6,000 word papers on any relevant period of history or on contemporary sources and situations. 500-1,000 word reviews of relevant scholarly publications or cultural work are also of interest.

We are particularly interested in scholarly work that explores clearly defined and contextualised instances of asymmetric dependency (as opposed to generalised or decontextualized fashion images/communication about enslavement etc). BCDSS referee the submissions and will offer translation support where necessary. Articles to be published in this JGS’s special issue must not consist of previously published scholarly work.

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This Special Issue of the Journal of Global Slavery, guest edited by Royce Mahawatte and in collaboration between the University of the Arts London and  the Bonn Centre for Dependency and Slavery Studies (BCDSS), places enslavement and other examples of ‘asymmetric dependencies’ at the centre of how fashion industries, fashion cultures, and fashioned embodiment are understood. The term ‘asymmetric dependency’ is ‘the ability of one actor to control the actions and the access to resources of another’ and it acknowledges the full range of unequal labour relations across history that have supported fashion systems.[1] The role of enslavement (and the subsequent denial of it); indentured labour arrangements; unpaid work; zero-hour contracts; punitive contracts (albeit relatively high-earning ones), and sweatshop labour deserve a place in our analysis. Unequal arrangements are essential, both historically, and in the present day, to the existence of fashion systems, and perhaps even essential to the idea of ‘being fashionable’ itself. Whether on the body, or on the page or screen, one of the main features of fashion discourse is to obscure the legacy of the enslaved, and often racialised, labour that bring fashioned products into being.


Please send a 250 word abstract and a 100 word bio to Dr Royce Mahawatte, r.mahawatte@csm.arts.ac.uk by 10 May 2023 (deadline for final article submission 30 December 2023). This address can also be used for any enquires.

For the full call, click here

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