MENTGES, Gabriele, and Lola SHAMUKHIDINOVA (eds., 2017). Textiles as National Heritage: Identities, Politics and Material Culture: Case studies from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Algeria and Peru, Münster and New York: Waxmann. ISBN: 978-3-8309-3609-1, 322 pp., fully illustrated with b/w and colour photographs, bibliography, no index. Price: €34.90.
This book contains a series of articles, most of which refer to some aspect of traditional and modern Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan textile production and dress. These articles are based on two research projects (2010-2012 and 2013-2015) that were conducted by academics from various Uzbek universities as well as the TU Dortmund University. In addition to the Central Asian articles there are two very out-of-place articles on Peruvian and Algerian traditional textiles and fashion design.
The Uzbek and Kazakh chapters provide a wide-ranging look at the history, production and use of traditional and modern textiles and fashion in these two Central Asian countries. Both countries have been vigorously re-establishing themselves since the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990’s. One way the relevant governments have been doing this is by actively supporting the use of locally produced textiles and regional dress forms as a significant aspect of the countries' rich national cultural heritage.
Recommendation: An interesting series of articles that provide a wide range of information and viewpoints. It is well worth reading by anyone interested in post-Soviet Central Asia, the development of modern fashion using regional traditions, and the issue how modern communication and trends are influencing artists, designers and crafts people. The chapters on Peruvian and Algerian textiles are interesting in themselves and there is a link in the basic themes, but they do feel as if they are used to pad the book out. There is the potential for several more books here – one on global modern fashions and traditional textiles, another on South American forms, as well as modern, traditional dress and fashion in the Mediterranean region!