Friday, November 07, 2008

Kufiya-clad American Leftist, circa 1987

I found this in Fred Davis' book, Fashion, Culture and Identity (1992), in his chapter on Antifashion (p. 163). Jennifer Berman's cartoon, from In These Times, is entitled "The American Leftist (Progressivus Sandinistis Supportoris)." It features two male leftists in stereotypical late 1987 attire; I show (of course) only the one wearing what the cartoon calls a "Palestinian style scarf." (Unfortunately, it's not drawn very accurately. At the time it would have been a real black-and-white checked one.)

Among the other international characteristics of these two stereotypical leftists, according to the list at his left, is that they know: "some of the words to 'the Internationale'"; "at least 5 people who have been to Esteli [Nicaragua]"; "protest chants in Spanish" and "love Thai food."

More evidence that the kufiya was everyday eighties leftist attire, especially in the key movements of the era, the Central American solidarity movement and the nuclear disarmament movement. Contrary to what some accounts I've been reading say (including wikipedia--at least, as of today), its use in the US pre-dates the first Palestinian intifada, which broke out in December 1987.


Birdseed said...

The Norwegian wikipedia article has (unsourced) the suggestion that 1967 was the year it started to appear in the west. Here in Sweden it's been a common left-wing accessory since at least the seventies, and I have to say I'm surprised the fashion use actually spread here - it used to be such a well-known symbol of a political stance. There were even colour codes for different political groupings!

Birdseed said...

(Mid-seventies video if you need any evidence.)