Fashioning a Discourse of Elegance and Politics: The Historical Roots of the Sapeur Movement, 1884-1980
Danielle Christian Porter
Thesis DT 3.5 2010 P678
ix, 100 leaves : ill.
This thesis focuses on the history of the movement in Congo-Brazzaville and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It seeks to bridge the gaps between the social, cultural, and political histories of these two countries with the unique circumstances that led to the creation of the SAPE (Société des Ambianceurs et Persons Élégants).
This project makes a significant contribution to the social histories of the two Congos because it addresses a topic that has been misunderstood or neglected to this point. Many scholars have reduced the sapeur movement to mimicry- as something that arose out of the circumstances of colonialism. Through the combination of interviews, newspaper articles, and secondary sources, it became evident that the lifestyle of the sapeur revolved around more than just clothing and colonialism. Rather, the movement was representative of a longer cultural history that included traditions and beliefs that predated colonialism. Furthermore, those that participated in the sapeur movement and dressed elegantly exhibit a level of agency under colonial rule and within an oppressive postcolonial state with the expression of culture, politics, and values through dress.