The next talk of the IOW Material Histories hosted at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University is on Thursday, April 15 at 12pm EST. It is titled "Weaving Connections Across the Western Indian Ocean in the Nineteenth Century."
In this talk, Dr. Sarah Fee complicates the conventional wisdom that, in the nineteenth century, regional handcrafted textiles circulation in western India, southern Arabia, and eastern Africa were obliterated by industrial imitations imported from Europe. Her study of the precise textile types in play at the time reveals a different story. By combining studies of objects, archival evidence, and terminologies as well as consultations with contemporary practitioners, Dr. Fee's research suggests that many weavers and traditions innovated and flourished (and several new ones rose) in the nineteenth century. Focusing especially on cloth consumption in eastern Africa, Fee identifies the handcrafted textiles that defined luxury until the final decades of the 1800s.