Crossing cultures: Indigenous decorated coats
My forthcoming book, Object Lives: Global Histories in Northern North America (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2020) is co-edited with Beverly Lemire (Alberta) and Anne Whitelaw (Concordia), and arose from an extraordinary research collaboration. We brought together a group of people with different academic disciplines and sets of expertise, and looked--very carefully--together at historic items that have changed cultural contexts. We thought about the movements of materials and ideas, patterns and styles, and how objects change and gain meaning as they move cross-culturally. My essay in the book explores quilled and painted Indigenous coats, patterned on European lines but heavily Indigenized in aesthetic and decorative technique. I think about the people who made these coats, wore them, collected them and preserved them, in northern fur trade contexts and in England after collectors took them there. The book cover features a coat in the collections of the Pitt Rivers Museum that is so lavishly decorated with quillwork and paint that the word "peacock" comes to mind. There's more on the project at www.objectlives.com and the book can be ordered from MQUP.ca .