Decolonising African costume and textiles: Naming, symbols and meaning in the Ghanaian context

Tordzro, Naa Densua (2021) Decolonising African costume and textiles: Naming, symbols and meaning in the Ghanaian context. MPhil(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This MPhil research is concerned with decolonising African textiles, in particular Ghanaian cloth and wax prints. It focuses on the uses, significance and meaning of designs and patterns in most of the Ghanaian indigenous textiles such as Kente, Adinkra, Tie and Dye, wax and roller prints made in Ghana. It does so in order to explore the relationship between colonisation, past and present day, the cultural and manufacturing history and naming of prints, and the changes that have occurred in designs and names.

It examines how designs in the cloth are named within prevailing social concepts, contexts and trends, and the various ways in which Ghanaian practitioners, including myself as a practitioner, visualize and articulate ideas and experiences through these cloths. It also examines how multinational cultural appropriation has affected the naming systems in Ghana.

Through a survey of existing literature and through my practice of working with oral traditions of textiles and garment making I show that Ghanaian textiles provide symbolic expressions of wealth and status, positionality in society, as well as communicating thoughts, mood, feelings, state of mind and perceptions about the social world and beliefs of the people who use them. I show how textiles are also a source of information that offer meaning and interpretation to some aspects of Ghanaian social and cultural life. The evidence of this is found in textiles such as wax and roller prints, Kente and Adinkra cloth with wide-ranging patterns and names in Ghana. I evidence this in the second half of the thesis through the cataloguing and curation of cloth patterns and names, and the use of proverbs in cloth design, emphasising the role played by market traders in the naming and design of cloth.

Finally, I offer a case study by way of an accompanying online exhibition of my ways of working through practiced based method and decolonising the methods of teaching and learning in disadvantaged communities such as Dodowa, Ghana, with western models, and with museum art works in Glasgow, Scotland. This written thesis provides the explanatory foundation for my work in the online exhibition. The exhibition, however, stands alone.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil(R))
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Decolonisation, influence of colonisation, African indigenous costume, Fashion curriculum.
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Supervisor's Name: Phipps, Professor Alison
Date of Award: 2021
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2021-82319
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 13 Jul 2021 13:45
Last Modified: 13 Jul 2021 13:45
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.82319

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