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Lecture | LUCIS Short-Stay Visiting Scholar Lecture

Transnational Curation Politics: Contemporary Muslim Fashions

Thursday 6 June 2019
Museum Volkenkunde
Steenstraat 1

In this talk, Professor Reina Lewis provides a behind the scenes account of the making of the exhibition Contemporary Muslim Fashions which opened at the Fine Art Museums of San Francisco in September 2018 and has now transferred to the Museum Angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt, as part of an international touring schedule. Brought in to provide expertise on modest and Muslim fashion to augment the museum’s existing strengths in the curation of fine art style exhibits of fashion and textiles, Reina Lewis worked closely with the museum curators on the selection and staging of the exhibition.

The cultural politics of showing ensembles with and without headcover and with differing definitions of modesty were fundamental to the staging of the exhibition and its messaging in media and educational outreach. Central to these front of house and backstage processes was the advice of a consultation group made up of members of the local San Francisco Bay area Muslim communities. With a mission to showcase the variety of Muslim fashion creativity globally, the curatorial team had to make hard selection decisions.

In her talk, Professor Lewis will reflect on how the particular challenges and opportunities of exhibiting religiously related fashion may vary from one location to another - raising sometimes different forms of tension whilst also creating chances to open dialogue and build intercultural trust. 

About Reina Lewis

Reina Lewis is Centenary Professor of Cultural Studies at the London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London. Her books include: Muslim Fashion: Contemporary Style Cultures (2015); Rethinking Orientalism: Women, Travel and the Ottoman Harem (2004): and Gendering Orientalism: Race, Femininity and Representation (1996): Modest Fashion: Styling Bodies, Mediating Faith, (ed. 2013); Styling South Asian Youth Cultures: Fashion, Media, Society (ed. 2018 with Lipi Begum and Rohit K. Dasgupta); The Poetics and Politics of Place: Ottoman Istanbul and British Orientalism (ed. 2010 with Zeynep Inankur and Mary Roberts); Gender, Modernity and Liberty: Middle Eastern and Western Women’s Writings: A Critical Reader (ed. 2006 with Nancy Micklewright); Feminist Postcolonial Theory: A Reader (ed. 2003 with Sara Mills); Outlooks: Lesbian and Gay Visual Cultures (ed.1996 with Peter Horne). Reina was consulting curator for the exhibition Contemporary Muslim Fashions, at the Fine Art Museums of San Francisco in 2018 (touring to Frankfurt 2019) and is co-editor of the accompanying book with Jill D’Allesandro.

Reina Lewis is also editor with Elizabeth Wilson of the book series Dress Cultures, and with Teresa Heffernan of the book series Cultures in Dialogue.

Reina is a frequent media commentator – most recently for The New York Times, Le Monde, BBC World, BBC Radio, CBC radio, The Guardian, The Times, Marie Claire, Elle Brazil, The Business of Fashion, Fortune, and Huffington Post.

Reina Lewis convenes the public talk series Faith and Fashion at the London College of Fashion.

Roundtable Friday 7 June

On Friday morning 7 June, a roundtable will be organised with Professor Lewis, to further discuss the issues she will raise in her lecture. If you would like to join, please let us know by sending your name and affiliation to lucis@hum.leidenuniv.nl.

Sign up for the lecture on 6 June

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