THEMES

We are exploring the following research themes across 200 years of clothing inventions in global patent archives:

Who gets to take up public space (& who is made smaller, concealed, compressed)?

This theme explores the politics of taking up space in public.

Bodies in public space are not equally given capacity and possibility to expand. Some have been (and continue to be) hidden, reduced, compressed and ignored in different ways. This theme explores how some inventors refuse to be made smaller or diminished by society. We highlight inventive ways people have resisted hegemonic norms to become space makers, takers and claimers via unusual and inventive forms of clothing.

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How, and in what ways, can people keep things private in public?

This theme explores the politics of privacy in public.

Citizens have always been watched (and watched others), and they are under even more surveillance, as a result of pervasive digital technologies. This theme explores how inventors over time have questioned the idea of transparency as being central to being a “good citizen” by proposing a myriad to help people protect their privacy in public.

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What impact does the ability to contain or release fluids outside the home have on people’s rights?

This theme explores the politics of dwelling in public.

This theme explores how different bodies are problematized as leaky – with blood, fat, urine, sweat, milk etc. It highlights how intersections of social and cultural norms together with infrastructural privileges can exclude and discriminate against people and limit how they inhabit, dwell and move through public life and space. We explore how some inventors have resisted being stuck at home by developing different ways people can dwell in public (while pissing and leaking) for longer, with more control and dignity.
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Who gets to be active in public?

This theme explores the politics of active bodies in public.

Sport is often seen as a symbol of citizenship and national identity via glorified discourses of heroism, strength, daring and triumph. However, not everyone fits these normative discourses, genders or body shapes or are given equal attention. This theme explores how inventors have worked-around barriers to provide alternate forms of active wear, which operate as experimental sites for new practices, expanded expressions and citizenship claims.

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How are different mobile citizens un/seen and what effect does this have on their ability to participate in public life?

This theme explores the visual politics of modal hierarchies in public.

Motorised traffic dominates public space and with it, ideas about civic rights and entitlements. This theme maps the impact regimes of in/visibility have had on differently moving bodies. We explore how clothing inventors have responded to challenges faced by multi-modal citizens in their desire to be seen and heard in public space.

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How do changing relations between humans, animals + tech shape clothing inventions?

This theme explores the politics of human & more-than-human relations.

Citizenship is generally perceived as a right reserved for humans, though (honourable) citizenship rights have been extended to the natural environments. This theme explores if, how and in what ways,  clothing inventions over time can be mapped as a measure of intimacy and proximity and what we might learn about the possibilities of inter-relations between humans and others.

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What can work clothes tell us about the value of different kinds of work & workers?

This theme explores the politics of unequal/unrecognised labour.

Being a citizen provides the right to work and comes with rights, entitlements, protection and status. However, not all work is recognised equally and not all workers are equally able to carve out spaces in the workplace. This theme explores how inventors re-configure work clothes and with them different ways to participate in and re-imagine normative and exclusive institutions and systems.

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How do people use clothes to protect and defend themselves and their ideas?

This theme explores the politics of safety in public.

This theme focuses on ordinary bodies in public space (not professionals equipped to protect and defend in the course of a job). Here, inventors are dedicated to helping ordinary citizen defend themselves against a range of risks and threats in public such as invasive intrusion into personal space, bodily autonomy and political beliefs.

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How do ordinary people survive extraordinary things?

This theme explores the politics of mundane survival.

Many narratives focus on heroic tales of triumphing against adversity and prevailing in hostile conditions. This theme explores how inventors have attempted to move beyond conventional binaries of winning and losing. We put into dialogue a range of alternate ways inventors have attempted to help ordinary individuals cope, manage and survive.