Dress as Symbolic Resistance in Asia

  • Mina Roces (Author)

Identifiers (Article)


During the past decades, Asian Studies scholars have made outstanding contributions on the topic of how political elites have promoted changes in clothing in their projects of modernising their citizens or creating new nationalist identities (such as by inventing national dress). But the visual power of the politics of appearances allows also marginal and oppressed groups to send powerful messages. This special issue proposes to shift the analytical lens from the way sartorial changes have come from above – i.e., from political elites in power – to examining instead how resistance movements, including women’s movements, social movements, minorities and marginalised groups, utilise the semiotics of dress to advance their agendas from below. Thus, this issue underscores the importance of dress, bodily deportment, fashion and etiquette, analysing how these have been intrinsic to the performance of social, political, cultural, religious and gendered identities, and in challenging the status quo. The focus here is on how dress and fashion are marshalled for the performance of collective action, socio-political dissent, alternative politics and identity politics.


Dress Studies, Asian Studies, Asia, dress, fashion, symbolic resistance, social movements, Editorial