In-Between Textiles, 1400–1800: Weaving Subjectivities and Encounters

Beatriz Marín-Aguilera, Stefan Hanß

Research output: Book/ReportAnthologypeer-review


In-Between Textiles is a decentred study of how textiles shaped, disrupted, and transformed subjectivities in the age of the first globalisation. The volume presents a radically cross-disciplinary approach that brings together world-leading anthropologists, archaeologists, art historians, conservators, curators, historians, scientists, and weavers to reflect on the power of textiles to reshape increasingly contested identities on a global scale between 1400 and 1800. Contributors posit the concept of “in-between textiles,” building upon Homi Bhabha’s notion of in-betweenness as the actual material ground of the negotiation of cultural practices and meanings; a site identified as the battleground over strategies of selfhood and the production of identity signs troubled by colonialism and consumerism across the world. In-Between Textiles establishes cutting-edge conversations between textile studies, critical cultural theory, and material culture studies to examine how textiles created and challenged experiences of subjectivity, relatedness, and dis/location that transformed social fabrics around the globe.

“At a time when the fabric of democracy is rent by xenophobic zealotry, this outstanding volume provides us with the warp and woof of historical exchange and cultural co-existence. These enthralling essays engage with material practices of weaving across genres and geographies, displaying the travelling world of textiles as they record the shifting global communities of a ‘woven imaginary.’ Reading In-Between Textiles, brought to life the migratory memory of my mother’s Parsi garas: a traditional sari, commissioned in Bombay from Chinese sailors who offered her a range of silks and motifs, and brought her the sari, months later, when they docked again in Bombay harbor. Set out on this wondrous voyage of the woven world.”
Homi K. Bhabha, Harvard University.

“Ranging across five centuries, six continents, and an impressive range of fields, from chemistry-based technologies to ethnographic fieldwork, this broad collection of textile studies recovers the place of subalterns in history, and the varying meanings that early modern textiles took on depending on the communities that used them. Employing the concept of ‘in-betweenness,’ this volume includes the agency of the excluded and allows historians to move away from glorifying metropolitan ‘culture’ without a clear consciousness that it is a culture of imperialism.”
Suraiya Faroqhi, Ibn Haldun University.

“What happens when a material methodology is used to investigate subjectivities? This remarkable collection of sixteen essays considers the ways in which textiles and clothing serve to unlock the space ‘in-between,’ one of negotiation, translation, and sometimes subversion of identities. In this book early modern cloth, but also dress, embroideries, and carpets are interrogated to create a new conceptualization of the global. Here material exchange, cultural connections, and the encounters of ideas are woven together in a rich tapestry traversing the entire world.”
Giorgio Riello, European University Institute Florence.

“This pioneering volume offers sixteen case studies that consistently cross-fertilize Homi Bhabha’s postcolonial theory with the new history of material practices to show how dress and textiles produced difference and mimicry in cultural struggles that remade subjectivities in the early modern world. A remarkable feat and excellent read. Beautifully illustrated, incisive, and original, this book presents cutting-edge scholarship.”
Ulinka Rublack, University of Cambridge.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
PublisherAmsterdam University Press
Number of pages388
ISBN (Print)9789463729086
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2023

Publication series

NameVisual and Material Culture, 1300-1700


  • Archaeology
  • Art and Material Culture
  • Early Modern Studies
  • Postcolonial Theory
  • Global History
  • textiles


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