Dressing with Purpose

Belonging and Resistance in Scandinavia

Edited by Carrie Hertz

Published by: Indiana University Press

416 Pages, 8.50 x 11.00 in, 142 color illus., 11 b&w photos, 1 map

  • Hardcover
  • 9780253058577
  • Published: December 2021


Getting dressed is a creative act, an expression of self and social connection, as well as an artistic performance meant to persuade.Dressing with Purpose examines three Scandinavian dress traditions—Norwegian bunad, Sámi gákti, and Swedish folkdräkt—and traces how they have evolved during two centuries of social and political change across northern Europe.

In the 19th century, life in Scandinavian began to change. Many in Sweden worried about the ravages of industrialization, urbanization, and the loss of traditional ways of life. Norway was gripped in a struggle for national independence. The indigenous Sámi communities—artificially divided by national borders and long resisting harsh assimilation policies—rose up in protests that sparked cultural renewal. People put on special clothing to communicate powerful messages of belonging and resistance and to fight for self-determination and demonstrate commitment to cherished beliefs. This creative reworking of tradition continues today with dress revivals, reconstructions, and inventions, each meant to fashion a new future.

Through lavishly illustrated and richly detailed case studies, Dressing with Purpose critically explores contemporary themes within traditional dress movements in Scandinavia, from the ongoing legacies of nationalism and colonialism to the transformations brought by feminism, environmentalism, immigration, tourism, and indigenous rights.