Dr Elizabeth Kutesko

Profile image of Lecturer in Cultural Studies

Lecturer in Cultural Studies

Central Saint Martins (CSM)

Biography

Elizabeth Kutesko is Lecturer in Cultural Studies at Central Saint Martins across the BA Fashion, Textiles and Jewellery programmes. Since 2012, she has taught BA and MA courses in dress, body and visual culture at the Courtauld Institute of Art, the Royal College of Art, University for the Creative Arts, and Winchester School of Art.

Kutesko completed her AHRC-funded PhD at the Courtauld Institute of Art in 2016, examining the representation of Brazilian dress in National Geographic magazine. She published an article based upon this research in the Brazilian Fashion special edition of Fashion Theory: the journal of dress, body and culture (February 2016), and is now preparing the full manuscript for publication with Bloomsbury (forthcoming, 2018). Concurrently, she is beginning a new project which examines narratives of dress and history in a little-known photographic travel album produced in 1914 by the American photographer Dana B. Merrill. The album, entitled Views of the Estrada de Ferro Madeira e Mamoré, Amazonas & Matto Grosso, Brazil, documents the construction of the 367-km Madeira-Mamore railway (1907-1912), known as the ‘Devil’s Railroad’ throughout the Brazilian Amazon. It provides a fascinating insight into the identities and clothing choices of the various individuals involved in its construction, whether U.S. engineers, Brazilian officials, workers on the track who had travelled from all over the world, or diverse indigenous groups living within Brazil.

Research interests

Dress, fashion and the clothed body; Latin American photography and film; Latin American fashion cultures; the nuances and complexities of representation; the politics of globalisation; visual and material cultures in global contexts; local and global intersections in fashion and photography; embodiment and sensory perception.

Research statement

My interdisciplinary research questions how different representational modes reconfigure and translate our understanding of dress and fashion cultures across the globe. I have published on topics as diverse as the Congolese Sapeurs (2013), Moroccan fashion designers (2014), and anonymous Brazilian designers using Lycra (2015). I am interested in the intersections between local and global identities, as well as the nuances and complexities of representation.

My PhD research presented innovative ideas in the study of dress history from the perspective of an art historian – in relation to issues of globalisation; disciplinary shifts in anthropology; as well as local, global and cultural imperialism. My thesis provided the first comprehensive examination of the representation of Brazilian dress and fashion in the popular ‘scientific’ and educational magazine National Geographic, which was established in 1888. Drawing on diverse and wide-ranging source material, I traced the magazine’s shifting gaze onto Brazilian dress practices in relation to the cultural, social, economic and political relationship between North and South America throughout the course of the 20th and 21st centuries. I am currently preparing this research for publication as a book, entitled Fashioning Brazil: Globalization and the representation of Brazilian Dress in National Geographic, in Joanne Eicher’s Dress and Fashion Research series (Bloomsbury).

Selected research outputs