Fez & Sherwani: Self-fashioning, Consumption, and Ottoman Influence in Nineteenth-Century South Asia


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


Near and Middle East Studies


In the late nineteenth century, the Ottoman style of fez and “istanbulin” coat became widely adopted across South and Southeast Asia. What explains the transnational spread and appeal of this aesthetic in an age defined by European hegemony? Through a study of male self-fashioning in Ottoman Turkey and South Asia, this study highlights historical networks of South-South cultural interaction, and the transformative impact of new media on emerging ideas of identity. Drawing on archives of studio portraiture, illustrated journals and dress, “Fez & Sherwani” argues that this style’s popularity was tied to new notions of urbane, masculine sophistication emerging across the region, framed by a strong sense of mutual anti-imperialist resentment.