Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Email Sent to Julliet Ash, Author of 'Dress Behind Bars' ;


[mailto:pippafairhall@hotmail.co.uk]Sent: Mon 11/15/2010 10:34 AMTo:

Juliet AshSubject: Dissertation

Hi Juliet,my name is Pippa Fairhall, I left you a voicemail this morning at the Royal College.Im within my third year at Ravensbourne studying menswear and am currently writing my dissertation on prison gangs. I have been reading your book 'Dress behind Bars' and have found it an extremely useful sourse for my research.I wanted to ask if it would be possible I could come and speak with you regarding your findings when writing your book, and for your opinion on the area I have chosen to look at?I understand you are very busy, but would really appreciate some of your time. Kind regards Pippa Fairhall


Hello Pippa,I'm glad you have found the book useful. Yes - do come and have a chat if you feel it would be useful. Would you prefer to come to my home in Hackney or to the RCA? I'm in college Tuesdays and Wednesdays - and pretty booked up but might be able to find an hour on a Tuesday. Otherwise I'm in Hackney near London Fields.Do phone my home number - 0207 ****** to arrange a time if you would like to.All the best Juliet

Tutor in History and theory of Dress and Textiles,Royal College of Art,Kensington Gore,London SW7 2EU(tel. 020 7590 4480)(email: juliet.ash@rca.ac.uk)-----Original Message-----From: Pippa Fairhall


Hello Pippa,please find some thoughts in answer to your questions below. You ask some interesting questions and I'm sure you will find thefollowing books (that i discover are not in the bibliography of my book as I thought since the publishers requested such a limited amount of further reading!Louis Kontos and Dave Brotherton: 'Encyclopedia of Gangs(Greenwood Publishing group, 2008)Dave Brotherton, Luis Barrioos & Louis Kontos (eds.) 'Gangs and Society: Alternative Perspectives (Columbia University press) 1991?Dave Brotherton & Luis Barrios (eds.): 'Latin King & Queen Nation: Street Politics and the Social Transformation of a New York Gang' (Columbia University press), 1997?Dave brotherton, 'Cross-Cultural perspectives on Youth, marginalisation and Empowerment in the New Millenium', (Columbia University press)Hope this may be of help - the 'Latin King & Queen...' book is really the definitive text on US gangs!All the best and good luck with the research - see below for answers to your questions!Juliet-----Original Message-----From: Pippa Fairhall


[mailto:pippafairhall@hotmail.co.uk]Sent: Thu 11/18/2010 6:59 PMTo:

Juliet AshSubject: Dissertation questions

Hello Juliet,Hope you have had a good week? Sorry for the delay in my reply. I understand you are busy and I really appreciate you taking time to look over some questions.My inspiration for this topic was the growing popularity in gang culture within the United States, this lead me on to one of America's largest prison gangs, The Mexican mafia, aka La EME. My main intentions are to look at the visual elements essential to agang member. As well as their relationship between image and crime.What I have noticed throughout my short study of Mexican-American gangs, is the constant reminder of violence towards other gangs through clothing and tattoos. This is something that seems to be key to their survival. I was really interested in 'DressBehind Bars' the section on contemporary prison clothing and the prisoners reaction to having to conform to prison clothing. They still used ways of expressing their affiliation to a gang through the colour of their socks. -This so obvious need and desire tobe apart of a subculture, to conform, under a number of rules and constraints, is the total opposite is what is known as a rebel, an outcast and a criminal in the first place?JA: I think its in the nature of subcultural style (see Hebdige and Muggleton on Subcultural style) that there are tacit codes of dress which mean that rather than rebelling as an individual against society/ prison authorities you rebel COLLECTIVELY as a gang. So I don't really agree that by wanting to identify with a gang's rules sartorially you go against the 'outsider' mentality of criminality. After all the belonging to a gang (certainly in US prisons and often on the street) is often a matter of survival due to the violent competitiveness between gangs. So by wearing colour coded socks you are identifying yourself as aprt of a rebellious collective against prison or society's rules that ban such clothing (in prisons at least) as gang status.Within the same chapter a point is made on the colour of the t-shirts of prisoners, depicting the sentence that the said criminal is serving.Would you ever say that this could work to the advantage of the prisoners? Were they proud of their uniform, proud of their crime?JA: Yes sometimes this is the case since a gang member's status may well depend on the severity or risky nature of the crime and the ensuing sentence they received. This is another reason why prison authorities try to deter gang membership and the subcultural dress codes since wearing gang clothing prevents individuals from repenting their crime and subsequent rehabilitation.'According to Lurie (Alison Lurie - The Language of Clothes), there is a proportional relation between the number of items of clothing one has and how much one is able to express visually, because clothes are one's visual vocabulary. So a person with asmall wardrobe can express only a few messages via clothes, while someone interested in fashion with a large wardrobe is able to express a number of different messages.' (Svendsen 2006, p.64-65)JA: Yes this may be the case but there is also the question of poverty - crime and drug dealing may finance some of la EME's lifestyle but conspicuous clothing and variety might lead police in a poor neighbourhood to more readily identify gangs as criminal. The question seems to be whether La EME chose to have a small vocabulary of clothing as it is the only way they wish to be perceived. By making the choice of only expressing yourself in one way, will lead your audience to only view you in that way.There is no other thought apart from death and violence when studying the look of La EME when they chose to convey such a minimal amount of variety. On the contrary to that, is La EME expressing themselves with such a lack variety due to the lack ofknowledge? Resulting in them having the lower hand is communication via clothing, making it almost essential to express themselves through the use of tattoos? JA: All these questions you raise are highly likely. I think Brotherton & Kantos and barrios will be much more able to answer them since they've been researching US gangs for the last 3 decades!!!!These are some rough ideas that I want to expand on during my dissertation and hope that you can give me some feed back of your own thoughts. Many Thanks

Pippa Fairhall

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