Not Just Clothes

The Importance of Traditional Clothes to Ghanaians in Oldenburg

Paul Agoe


Clothing and dress communicate a myriad of information about the wearer. Studies on immigrants’ usage of clothing from their places of origin point mainly to identity as the underlying factor in the choices they make. Drawing on the concept of diaspora, through focusing on Ghanaians living in Oldenburg, this paper explores the importance of, and meanings expressed by the use of traditional clothing and dress in diasporic settings beyond the purposes of identity. It also explores ways in which the target study population engages with this clothing. The data is from in-depth interviews conducted with Ghanaians living in the city. I argue that immigrants in the diaspora express more than just identity in the use and keeping of clothing and dress from their places of origin. Clothing and dress are used to link the wearer with home, are sources of inspiration, and are points of nostalgia. The aesthetic qualities of clothes in the diaspora and the various methods of acquiring and making clothing and dress, which span borders, are highlighted.

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