As part of my exploration of fashion as a vehicle for environmentalism and activism, I have embarked upon a journey as a M.A. degree candidate at New York University (NYU), creating an individualized masters degree around fashion and community development. This section will be dedicated to the development of my thesis. Follow along this journey as I research, explore, and advocate for fashion, as a mode of theory and a form of praxis, as a vehicle for environmentalism, activistic discourse, and social change.

Since writing my Statement of Purpose, and Review of the Literature, my research interests have once again evolved. Below please find the next evolution of my thesis, an Independent Study Project, the research of which will be the inspiration for my subsequent collections. Next to each topic, please find the Pinterest Board or published paper associated with each subject. 

Gallatin Graduate Independent Study Project
Proposed by: Tamara Leacock

Title: Fashion and Social Justice: Aestheticizing Autonomy

Description of the Study: This independent study project will explore the ways in which fashion, in the form of dress, uniform, and branding iconography, has been deployed in support of social movements fighting for autonomy and community visibility. The independent study project will specifically look at social movements such as the Zapatista Party of National LIberation/ Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, and the Black Panther Party, and the media art collaborations between them, such as media art project Zapantera Negra. The study will explore the use of fashion by community groups such as the Herero Tribe in Zamibia as visual markers of their resistance to genocide. The study will also explore how the use of fashion in these contexts compares with destructive mass movements of autonomy, such as designed by the Nazi Party after World War II. What elements of fashion are coopted by revolutionary movements and how does fashion aid in the aestheticization and clarifying of the visual language of autonomy? And in making clear the message of autonomy, how does branding help to propel the goals of activists groups in achieving their message? What tools of fashion can aid activists in heightening the impact of their message today. The independent study will involve weekly readings and responses, as well as the creation of a fashion collection that will be proposed to an activist organization as a way to globalize and contemporize their globally resonant struggle for autonomy and positive social change.

  • Adam, Jason. “Antiglobalization: The Global Fight for Local Autonomy.”
  • Allen, Amy. The Politics of Our Selves: Power, Autonomy, and Gender in Contemporary Critical Theory
  • Barthes, Roland. The Fashion System
  • Breward, Christopher. Fashion
  • Cleaver, Eldridge. Soul On Ice
  • Colegrave, Stephen and Chris Sullivan. Punk: The Definitive Record of a Revolution
  • Gibson, Pamela Church. Fashion and Celebrity Culture
  • Hollander, Anne. Seeing Through Clothes
  • Jacopetti, Alexandra. Native Funk & Flash: An Emerging Folk Art.
  • Lobenthal, Joel. Radical Rags: Fashion of the Sixties
  • Lurie, Alison. The Language of Clothes
  • Miller, Monica L.Slaves to Fashion: Black Dandyism and the Styling of Black Diasporic Identity.
  • Morris Jr., Walter. A Textile Guide to the Highlands of Chiapas
  • Ogbar, Jeffrey O.G., Black Power: Radical Politics and African American Identity
  • Root, Regina A. The Latin American Fashion Reader
  • Seale, Bobby. Seize the Time: The Story of the Black Panther Party and Huey Newton
  • Spotts, Frederick. Hitler and the Power of Aesthetics

Conference Links:

Essays and Articles:

Exhibitions and Dress Archives:
  • Dress Archive of Frida Kalho, Museo Frida Kalho, Mexico City, Mexico
  • Duarte, Caleb. “The Black Panthers and the Zapatistas: An Encounter” (
  • Mayan Dress Archive of Mercedes Osuna, owner of El Encuentro Arte Textil Maya, 63-A Real de Guadalupe, San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico


  • Korda, Alberto. “Guerrillero Heroico.” Photo of Che Guevara. 1960.


Work to Evaluated by the Advisor:
  • Weekly reading responses, to be published on fashion social justice blog, in the form of written responses and/or fashion design and styling responses.
  • Final Project: A Fashion Collection of sketches and samples that will be proposed to one of the studied social movements as a uniform to enhance the efficacy of their contemporary efforts.


September 25th, 2013- Carnival: Hypervisibility and the Aesthetics of Revolution + Thoughts (Read alongside Images)

October 16th, 2013-Masks, Hoodies, Headgear, and the Iconic Black Beret + Thoughts (Read alongside Images)

October 23rd, 2013- Combat Boots in Revolutionary and its Co-opting by Punk + Thoughts (Read alongside Images)

November 27, 2013- Sketches for Fashion Collection Submitted.

December 4, 2013- Work on Final Project

December 13, 2013- Completion of the Collection 

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