The cosmopolitanism of commerce and the allure of difference:Selfridges, the Russian Ballet and the tango 1911—1914

Article


Nava, M. 1998. The cosmopolitanism of commerce and the allure of difference:Selfridges, the Russian Ballet and the tango 1911—1914. International Journal of Cultural Studies. 1 (2), p. 163.
AuthorsNava, M.
Abstract

This
article
engages
with
postcolonial
theorisations
of
orientalism
and
challenges
assumptions
about
the
pervasiveness
of
imperial
ideologies
in
Britain
at
the
beginning
of
the
century
by
exploring
the
adherence
of
Selfridges
department
store
to
the
principle
of
‘cosmopolitanism’.
The
aesthetic
and
libidinal
economy
of
this
popular
modernist
commercial
formation,
and
the
distinctive
positioning
of
women
consumers
within
it,
is
investigated
in
relation
to
two
key
cultural
events
promoted
by
Selfridges
in
the
years
before
the
first
world
war:
the
Russian
Ballet
performance
of
Scheherazade
-­‐-­‐-­‐
based
on
a
story
from
the
Arabian
Nights
in
which
the
women
of
the
Shah’s
harem
seduce
the
black
slaves
of
the
household
-­‐-­‐-­‐
and
the
tango,
which
is
also
associated
with
a
new
less
constrained
sexuality
for
women
and
in
turn
is
linked
-­‐-­‐-­‐
via
Valentino
-­‐-­‐-­‐
to
the
emerging
popular
form
of
desert
romance.
How
do
these
configurations,
and
the
fashionable
ancillary
merchandise
spawned
by
them,
modify
our
understanding
of
racialised
and
national
identities?
Does
the
gendered
consumption
of
these
exotic
narratives
and
products
and
their
relocation
to
the
intimate
territories
of
the
domestic
and
the
body,
demand
a
shift
in
the
way
in
which
commerce
is
thought?
What
are
the
consequences
for
conceptualizations
of
sexual
difference?
This
article,
by
focusing
on
the
purchase
by
Selfridges’
women
customers
of
culturally-­‐other
objects
of
desire,
aims
to
make
a
contribution
both
to
theorisations
of
consumption
and
to
the
largely
unresearched
history
of
the
western
fascination
with
difference.

Keywordscosmopolitanisim; Orientalism; popular consumption
JournalInternational Journal of Cultural Studies
Journal citation1 (2), p. 163
Year1998
PublisherSAGE
Accepted author manuscript
License
CC BY-ND
Publication dates
Print01 Mar 1998
Publication process dates
Deposited05 Nov 2012
Copyright information(c) The Author
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https://repository.uel.ac.uk/item/86q4w

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