IIAS Newsletter 46 Winter 2008

Identity, nation and Islam

Jean Gelman Taylor

Dress is a powerful signifier of historical time, age, gender, class, religious and political orientations. It is often discussed in relation to fashion and therefore to change. Dress is also frequently examined in terms of ‘native’ or ‘traditional’, in contrast to Western or universal dress. In Indonesia, variations in dress shed light on political and religious changes and mirror contemporary debates about identity, gender and the constitution of the state. Since the fall of Suharto’s government in 1998, politicians campaigning in national elections adjust their dress to appeal to specific constituencies.

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