Kuvaa na kuvalia: maana yake nini? Covering and Uncovering the Female Body in Tanzanian Fashion

  • Graziella Acquaviva University of Turin
  • Cecilia Mignanti no affiliation
Keywords: Tanzania, economy, clothing, semiotics, colonialism, kanga


The article takes into examination how customs, clothes and the conception of African female body have changed over time in Tanzania, highlighting the wide system of symbols that are involved in them. Starting from the assumption that clothes and body are expression of the social and cultural reality, and a means of modelling powers and relationships, the article follows linguistic, semiological and psychological analytical approaches. Particular attention is given to fashion as an emerging industry in Tanzania, revealing how fashion designers envision their endeavours as a pathway both for pursuing their passion and for revitalising failing clothing industries.


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Author Biographies

Graziella Acquaviva, University of Turin

Graziella Acquaviva holds a PhD in African Studies from the University of Naples “L’Orientale” and is currently a fixed-term (Senior) Researcher in Swahili Language and Literature at the University of Turin. She has done extensive field research in Tanzania and Kenya on Swahili popular literature and has many publications in the field of African literature. She further translated Collodi’s Le avventure di Pinocchio: Storia di un burattino (1883) and Carofiglio’s Testimone inconsapevole (2002) from Italian into Swahili (Hekaya za Pinokio and Shahidi asiyekusudiwa). She teaches Swahili Language, culture and literature at the University of Turin. She can be reached at: graziella.acquaviva@unito.it.

Cecilia Mignanti, no affiliation
Cecilia Mignanti received her BA degree in Swahili Language and Literature at the University of Turin early in 2019. She has studied and done fieldwork in Iringa, Tanzania, focusing on the Swahili language and the customs, cultures and history of East African peoples. She is presently considering a MA in African studies. She can be reached at: mignanza@gmail.com.


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