Wearing as an Act of Citizenship

Katalin Halász | Curator and Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow, Brunel University London, UK

This paper explores wearing a garment in the performance of citizenship. It argues for wearing as an affective method in researching citizenship that has the potential to explore the sensory and emotional dimensions of belonging. Drawing on a journey as a white Eastern European woman wearing a Victorian male costume from East to South London in the wake of the General Election on 12 December 2019, the paper builds on auto-ethnographic notes made during the process of preparing for and travelling to a job interview for a postdoctoral research position wearing a Victorian male costume, and the unfolding of the day after the interview that involved walking around on campus at Goldsmiths, meeting friends and colleagues, teaching about gender to a 1st year undergraduate group and finally travelling home all the while wearing the same costume. Through a focus on the intimacies of wearing a garment, the paper asks: How can the act of wearing offer alternative ways of knowing about oneself and others in the world? How have the changing affective relationship with the garment and the ways in which it acted upon the body produced different acts of citizenship?