The isimodeni style: traditional beadwork, Zulu trinket or, South African sartorial tradition on Durban’s Golden Mile?

Gatfield, Rowan (2019) The isimodeni style: traditional beadwork, Zulu trinket or, South African sartorial tradition on Durban’s Golden Mile? Anthropology Southern Africa, 42 (2). pp. 1-22. ISSN 2332-3256

Full content URL: http://doi.org/10.1080/23323256.2018.1538735

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Abstract

Beadwork is a well-documented aspect of the socio-political culture of isiZulu-speaking groupings in Southern Africa. Whilst scholarship on beadwork deals largely with the denotative and connotative value it offers wearers, this article’s contribution relates both to its commodification and apolitical value by confronting a general assumption that a beadwork style known as isimodeni (modern beadwork), produced as a trinket for tourists along Durban’s racially stratified Golden Mile since the 1960s, is an authentic representation of a Zulu material culture. The paper probes how traditional beadwork and rickshaw rides (with both highly decorated carts and pullers) were earmarked by tourism officials of the time as commodities that could serve a demand for colourful exoticism and accessible “Zulu” culture. Methodologically, the article draws on the visual analysis of beaded artefacts and photographs, in addition to ethnographic data derived from unstructured interviews with beadworkers on the Durban beachfront, to examine how a beadwork tradition transformed into a “Zulu” tourism commodity, and then transmuted into a nationalised form of ethnic identity and sartorial tradition.

Keywords:beadwork, Durban, isimodeni, tourism, Zulu
Subjects:N Business and Administrative studies > N840 International Tourism
T Eastern, Asiatic, African, American and Australasian Languages, Literature and related subjects > T500 African studies
W Creative Arts and Design > W700 Crafts
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Architecture & Design > School of Architecture & Design (Design)
ID Code:34269
Deposited On:04 Nov 2019 11:49

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