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"Cowboy Cloth" and kinship: The closeness of denim consumption in a south-west Chinese city

McDonald, T; (2011) "Cowboy Cloth" and kinship: The closeness of denim consumption in a south-west Chinese city. Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture , 9 (1) 76 - 89. 10.2752/175183511X12949158771518. Green open access

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Abstract

This article examines the effect of the fabric denim in objectifying kinship in the city of Kunming, China. It is argued that denim has been particularly efficacious due to its ability to insert itself into traditional Chinese kinship notions of nurturance. Parents were seen to gift denim to their children with the object of instigating a change in the lives of the younger generation, coupled with the knowledge that a change in material circumstances would be necessary to achieve such transformation. At the same time, the younger generation's denim also provoked a "kinship gulf" between children and their parents, which parents appeared keen to close by purchasing and wearing denim of their own (although not without a degree of ambivalence, reflected by the presence of inactive jeans in parents' wardrobes). In this remarkable situation denim was seen, firstly, as the tool for creating generational disjuncture through traditional means and subsequently as the prospective solution to overcome this disjuncture. It is argued here that denim moves us to consider the study of kinship as the study of "closeness," a term that affords the consideration of objects in the milieu of intimate social relationships. © 2011 Berg. Printed in the United Kingdom.

Type: Article
Title: "Cowboy Cloth" and kinship: The closeness of denim consumption in a south-west Chinese city
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.2752/175183511X12949158771518
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/175183511X12949158771518
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > VP International
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1302056
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