ACTIVISMO DE GÉNERO: dress and contemporary activist political performance in feminist uprisings in Latin America
This research explores the resignification of items of clothing as tools in feminist protest and uprisings in Chile and Argentina from 2015 to date. Clothing and its bodily actions will be analyzed as means of artistic and political representation, with an emphasis in harnessing peripheral feminism’ thought and political practices of resistance.
As aesthetic objects, clothing has the rich capacity to transmit a political discourse within the public sphere. Items of clothing are resignified by activist groups and women who “from intuition” are engaged with feminist struggles and are seeking social equity and justice. The people who protest attribute an intention and a function to clothing, that is, they “activate” it as objects with agency, expanding the material limits of clothing and intervening in both the corporeal experience of activism and the social imaginary of its enactments. The political and performative activation of clothing in the public space has been key in the construction of ephemeral communities, in the rearticulation of the idea of protest and, above all, in the rejection of the patriarchal neoliberal-capitalist regime.
Thinking about the critical impact of this phenomenon not only aims to make visible the new forms of feminist protest in Chile and Argentina, but also seeks to rethink narratives historically excluded in Fashion Studies. The discipline continues to overlook the ways in which clothing in Latin America is problematized beyond the cognitive perspective of Eurocentrism. The modern euro-centered gaze of fashion presents Latin America, as well as other territories that have also been a bastion of colonialist thought, as a place that possesses culture, which is denied as a legitimate place of construction of knowledge. In this way Latin America exists, but without Latin America, rather it focuses on an exteriority that displaces practices, popular community knowledge and long-term memories. These practices nurture individual and collective identities that have one of their most significant expressions in clothing.
My own creative and theoretical experience under the wing of Colectivo Malvestidas (Poorly Dressed Collective) is the primary resource for this research, along with the work developed by other feminist groups that are metaphorically using clothing in their political interventions in public space. Position is taken from Latin America as a place of experiences and knowledge and a decolonial methodology is embraced as a shared practice of struggles.