MC's blog

Gathering

The gathering finally happened! Here's how it went down.

Title: Hot Girl Theory: Fashion Edition Location: Youtube live (the internet) Date: Sat. April 17th, 2021 at 6:30pm EST Participants: Maria Clara Otani, Bhavani Srinivas, Sharon Musa, and Arianne Rowe, at least 2 other live viewers, several thousand listeners on WPRB 103.3FM

For this gathering, we did our first live edition of hot girl theory. Hot Girl Theory is a collective started by MC Otani and Sharon Musa in 2020, right in the middle of the pandemic. The HGT podcast seeks to have open and accessible conversations about theory on de-colonization, anti-capitalism, and world building that we read. We usually stream on the radio and on Spotify, but this time we did a youtube live. The topic of this episode was fashion, particularly the global political economy of fashion and how it translates into the aesthetics, trends, and everyday design and styling decisions that we make.

Format: I chose to do a live so that we could mimc the format of Leo Hwan's twitch stream for Asian-Brazilians. Unfortunately I had to settle for the less aesthetic platform of Zoom+Youtube (streaming with a group in Twitch is only for elite members), but the zoom+youtube format worked fine.

Guest list: Arianne Rowe, Bhavani Srinivas, Sharon Musa, and all of HGT's followers on IG (about 100 people)

In the spirit of Priya Parker's understanding of gatherings, the gathering really began 24 hours earlier, on Friday, when we posted on Hot Girl Theory's instagram our live poster announcing Saturday's event. You can check out the are.na channel here for photos of the event and the poster:(https://www.are.na/mc-otani/vis218-gathering) . I would also recommend checking out our Instagram to get a general idea of how we communicate with our followers and how we've been using our platform so far: https://www.instagram.com/mustani2k50/

And here is the mini course readings that I put together (pdf links are all on the are.na channel): Monopsony Capitalism: Power and Production in the Twilight of the Sweatshop Age by Ashok Kumar:

  • CW: distressing photos around page 3
  • Introduction: All work exploits (but some more than most) (p. 11-14)
  • Conclusion (p. 229-236)

The Production of African Wax Cloth in a Neoliberal Global Market - Vlisco and the Processes of Imitation and Appropriation by Christine Delhaye (p. 247-256)

A Brief History of Postcolonial African Fashion by Helen Jennings (p. 105-106, don't read any further this article is not good.)

Kwame Nkrumah’s Suits: Sartorial Politics in Ghana at Independence by Abena Dove Osseo-Asare

  • Conclusion (p. 26-28)

To give the event some structure, I prepared a powerpoint with visuals for our audience who definitely did not do the readings, and after the initial introductions, opened the event with a brief summary of all the readings we did. This is the quick powerpoint I made: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1oDecbw3jaKFaLw7YsYA5spZ73exO3QSyKR7PnN6VlCQ/edit#slide=id.gd2be0c3eb0_0_0

I wanted to structure the flow of the conversation around the readings in a particular order, starting with wider discussions about aesthetics and world building, fashion as a way of building a new world, and then look closer at the ways in which aesthetics and trends define the material conditions of workers in the fashion industry, and the other way around (like how a history of global capitalism has shaped our aesthetics and preferences in turn). Easier said than done, because one factor we had to take into consideration was also how comfortable everyone would be speaking. I chose to keep the speaking group small and invited people I was close to, but because not all of them knew each other, I think a point of improvement for this gathering was that we should have spent more time, perhaps 30 minutes earlier, doing a little social and pre-show discussion so everyone could understand each other's communication styles and get comfortable. This could have also helped avoid moments where one person ended up dominating the discussion (and because the platform is so public and the gathering was so short, it was hard to, as a host, gauge exactly when and where I should have taken the authoritarian role).

This gathering brought up really important and interesting topics that expanded on several of the themes that I brought up in my series project. The monopsony capitalism reading, our discussion about the post-pandemic DIY maximalism trend, and topics of cultural "change," appropriation, and nationalist world building all certainly applied to all the examples of "traditional" clothes that I was looking at, and I think this gave a lot of content for the next entries of the series. In terms of format, I really enjoyed how our gathering played with multiple "text" formats -- we had images, essays, the actual discussion, snippets from movies and songs, much in the same spirit of a multi-media "discussion" that I try to do with mcotani.net. For each of my entries I could definitely include more real "sources" (external readings, podcasts, etc.). And if I had more coding powers, perhaps also a comment section, or a "library" where we could pool more interesting readings and content that touch on politics and fashion. For the research process for the event, I used the Fashion and Race database to look for good sources, but its specific focus on race made it a little bit difficult to find readings that looked more at the production and political economy of actual physical clothing. I would like to include the gathering as an entry too.

- 1 toast