Cover image for Dress, gender and cultural change : Asian American and African American rites of passage
Dress, gender and cultural change : Asian American and African American rites of passage
Lynch, Annette (Annette Ferne)
Publication Information:
Oxford ; New York : Berg, [1999]

Physical Description:
xi, 126 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.
Reading Level:
1440 Lexile.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library GT605 .L85 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Within the Hmong American community, mothers and aunts of teenagers use bangles, lace and traditional handwork techniques to create dazzling displays reflecting the gender and ethnicity of their sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, as they participate in an annual courtship ritual. This book examines these events to show how dress is used to transform gender construction and create positive images of African American and Hmong American youth.

Coming-of-age rituals serve as arenas of cultural revision and change. For each of these communities, the choice of dress represents cultural affirmation. This author shows that within the homogenizing context of American society, dress serves as a site for the continual renegotiation of identity - gendered, ethnic and otherwise.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

This book describes Hmong and African American rites of passage in America, focusing on New Year celebration costumes of Laotian Hmong youth in St. Paul, MN, and how this clothing reflects conflicts between the old male-dominated culture and the new gender roles and values found in US society. Methodology is discussed at length, but Lynch never provides a detailed overall description of Hmong New Year's celebrations and how clothing fits into festival planning and celebration, individually or collectively. Indirect references are obscured with interview quotes. This sociological tome would be improved if the Hmong were treated alone, expanded, and given much greater depth. Hmong clothing and ornaments are so elaborate that readers would appreciate more in-depth details about their creation and symbolic meanings, such as why "rooster hats" (formerly worn by small children) are being designed and created for teenagers. Lynch's research, which closed in 1992, could be updated. Her few pages on African American debutante balls (which encourage academic, social, and athletic excellence in black teenage girls) and "beautillion" balls (the same for boys) are worth documenting but ought to be in a separate article, not "added on" to flush out a thin book. Academic collections. B. B. Chico; Regis University

Table of Contents

Acknowledgementsp. ix
List of Illustrationsp. xi
1 Introductionp. 1
2 Hmong Arerican Dress and Culture: an Overviewp. 15
3 Dressed Be Successful in America: Models of Masculinity at Hmong New Yearp. 31
4 I Am Hmong, I Am American, I Am a Hmong American Womanp. 49
5 Invention of Tradition: Emergence of Ethnic Dress in Americap. 71
6 African American Debutante Balls: Presenting Women of Qualityp. 81
7 It Was Style, with a Capital "s" Versions of Being Male Presented at the Beautillion Ballp. 97
8 Comning of Age in America: Common Threadsp. 113
Bibliographyp. 117
Indexp. 123

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