Wearing Jewellery, Making Meaning: Jewellery at the boundary of the self

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


    This paper considers jewellery’s role in the constitution of embodied identity. Like clothes, jewellery is worn at the boundary of the body (Astfalck, 2005, Warwick and Cavallaro, 1998); yet, stripped of clothes’ function of concealing or protecting, its significatory function is foregrounded (den Besten, 2011), and exploring this is the aim of my project. The capacity of jewellery and adornments to carry meaning means they operate as a semiotic system or language which here serves as a surface between discourse and materiality, words and things. I am interested in unearthing the complex ways in which identity is negotiated at the margins of the body, in particular the ways in which self and other are reflected back at each other and – indeed – infused together. Women over 30 are asked to try on and respond to a range of adornments, and their responses are documented using a combination of creative methods and interviews. Drawing is used both as a means of data collection, and as a tool for analysing and reflecting on the insights gleaned.

    Resistance to normative, hegemonic meanings can be found in the participants' responses to range of jewellery, notably the art jewellery that provides an opportunity to push against the constrained version of embodiment that the women experience in their daily lives. Analysis reveals what the jewellery means to the women, but also how meaning issues from this surface, at the boundary of the body itself.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished (VoR) - 2017
    EventCulture, Costume and Dress Conference 2017 - Birmingham City University, Birmingham, United Kingdom
    Duration: 10 May 201712 May 2017
    Conference number: 2017


    ConferenceCulture, Costume and Dress Conference 2017
    Abbreviated titleCCD2017
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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