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One of the goals of this course is to provide you with the analytical tools and cross-cultural perspective to evaluate the meaning and significance of your own behaviors, norms and customs. Clothing forms an intimate part of our daily lives. While it conceals our naked primate bodies, we are remarkably alienated from the material relationships that provide us with what we wear.  This assignment, “Culture Wears,” focuses on clothing, culture and distinction—what people wear, why they wear it and what it might mean in different contexts. In the ethnography, Maya Market Women, Ashley Kistler presents traditional clothing as an important facet of daily life and ceremonial life in San Juan Chamelco, Guatemala.  This provides our point of embarkation for this assignment.

Your first task is to provide an ethnographic description of the clothing (traje tipico and ceremonial costumes) worn by the Maya market women in San Juan Chamelco.  Name the various elements of dress and explain how they function to express identity, and membership in society.  Explain why you think women are the custodians of traditional clothing while men are not… Explain how traditional clothing is made, what it is made from, by whom, how is it acquired, how durable it is and any other qualities you deem important.

Next, describe your own use of clothing in the same manner. What do you wear on a typical day and on a ceremonial occasion (the ceremonial event is for you to decide)?  Describe the outfits along the same lines as above.  How/where is the clothing made, what it is made from, by whom, how is it acquired by you, how durable it is and other qualities you deem important.  How does clothing help you establish rapport in your daily life?

Next, compare two or more of the following issues:

How are dress practices read by others in these two contexts?

Does the escalating pressures of fashion affect decisions about clothing in either case?

How do dress practices relate to socio-economic class status in either case?

How do gender, race, ethnicity, or religion shape yours and their dress practices?
As before, there are no page/ length requirements for this task. However, it is critical that the essay conform to good written communication standards including a context and purpose setting introduction and conclusion as well as body paragraphs that transition from one idea to the next. Standard grammar, spelling and punctuation rules are de rigueur for college-level courses. You are further required to use four outside sources for this essay and cite them appropriately as before, with the AAA style.  Find below a few sample sites:

http://www.collective-evolution.com/2017/02/08/the-truth-about-our-clothes-where-they-come-from-what-you-will-find-in-a-typical-western-home/ (Links to an external site.)


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