Baizerman, Suzanne, Joanne B. Eicher, and Catherine Cerny. 1993. “Eurocentrism in the Study of Ethnic Dress.” Dress 20(1): 19-32.
“Dress was touted as a visible manifestation of the civilized state of being, of cultural superiorit where advancement was defined in terms of superior economic development and global dominance. Modifying dress practices of the colonized to parallel those of the West was seen as a way of extending civilization” (PAGE, here 98).
Dress outside of western norms were frequently labeled with laden terms that both paid homage to the seeming “authenticity” and “purity” of its wearers, but also offered justification for their religious, social, and economic reform – based in Puritanical fears.
“Close attention to the term costume reveals it as a highly problematic one. To some, the term costume contains an inherent bias that differentiates the unfamiliar from the familiar. In English usage, the term costume often refers to exceptional dress, dress outside the context of everyday life: Halloween costume, masquerade costume, theater costume. In these contexts costume speaks to an assured identity in opposition to these everyday roles” (PAGE, here 100) – labeling dress primitive or exotic reinforces boundaries and hierarches – perceiving one community as static (obscuring the dynamicism within so-called primitive cultures and their dress.
Differentiates ethnic, national, and regional dress – all of which may obscure the heterogeneity and complexity of the world’s dress forms.