Beyond eurocentrism: Classifications, theories and the construction of identity in African dress, body designs, costumes and make-up

  • Tracie Chima Utoh-Ezeajugh


This work critically examines the practice of indigenous dressing, stage costuming, body designing and make-up, as utilised in African daily life and African performances; in a bid to theorise African adornment practices and articulate a position of enquiry, which will be employed in explaining techniques and methods; describing trends and styles, and explaining design practices and preferences within the African fashion and performance space. Many scholars and practitioners have made significant claims about traditional African dress culture, make-up, body designs and the costumes used in myriad performances spread across the continental landscape, but these claims have mostly been based on Eurocentric categorisations of non-Eurocentric cultural attires as "costumes". Using the analytical, descriptive and interpretative approach of the qualitative research methodology; the study attempts to theorise African dress culture, body designs, costumes and make-up practices, especially as utilised in everyday life, on special occasions, on stage, in films, carnivals, street  performances and traditional communal performances. The study exposes the limitations of Eurocentric categorisations, and explores some terrains of indigenous artistic distinctions defined by certain established dress codes, adornment cultures and ethnic orientations. In the course of this engagement, strong claims, assertions, and conceptions capable of generating critical stand -points that may amongst others, define the process and classify the practice, trends and identity of African dress culture, make-up and body designs; are initiated.


Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 2006-6910