Caribbean threads

6 October 2016

Caribbean Threads

The role of female fabric sellers in mediating political and cultural identity in the French and Creole speaking Caribbean will be examined in a new Cardiff University research project.

Undertaken by Dr Charlotte Hammond of the School of Modern Languages, the research, Caribbean Threads, will explore textiles, cloth and networks of labour and trade in areas including Haiti and Miami.

The aim of the research is to study how female fabric sellers - known as pacotilleuses - shape global markets through their local economic and design practices.

Studying pacotilleuses both individually and as a group, the research will shed light on the local impacts of global manufacturing practices, particularly given the promotion of textile and clothing industries as a development strategy following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

It will also explore the alternative fabric practices that challenge the contemporary forms of slavery predominant in multinational cotton-based textile and garment manufacturing.

Speaking about the research, Dr Hammond said: “What I hope to understand is the role of these women – who are predominantly working-class women traders and artisans - in shaping political and cultural identity in relation to their Caribbean neighbours. It will also look at the enduring economic and cultural dominance of France and the USA in the region.”

As part of the research, Dr Hammond will undertake fieldwork in Haiti, Martinique, Guadeloupe and Miami, consulting specialist archives and interviewing seamstresses, traders and members of textile and garment unions. A research blog will feature updates on the research and Dr Hammond’s fieldwork.

Caribbean Threads is a three year project funded by the Leverhulme Trust. Alongside the research, Dr Hammond will teach a module on Francophone Caribbean Cultures and co-lead the School’s Bodies and Borders research theme.

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