Design History researcher and lecturer Dr Annebella Pollen gives paper at footwear conference.
28 Mar 2013
Design History researcher and lecturer Dr Annebella Pollen gave a paper earlier this month at The World at Your Feet Conference held at the University of Northampton and Northampton Museum and Art Gallery - an area of the UK which has a long association with footwear manufacture.
The two-day conference brought together museum curators, academics and shoe industry insiders from around the world. Speakers discussed topics ranging from the meanings of 'monosandalism' in ancient Greek art and the superstition of shoes concealed for good luck in ancient buildings, through to the obsessive consumption practices of 'sneakerholics' on the streets of New York and the unexpected sub-cultural popularity of Clarks shoes in Jamaica.
Dr Pollen's paper examined the history of protest footwear, exploring, in particular, the concept of 'sandal-wearing' as a synonym for liberalism. She examined the motivations of sock and sandal-wearing socialist dress reformers of the late nineteenth century and connected this with the revival of interest in hand-made shoemaking among radical feminists in the 1970s. Pollen has direct experience of shoemaking, having worked for the South Devon shoe company Green Shoes in the mid-1990s.
The conference explored the cultural significance of shoes drawing a range of academic disciplines including fashion and design, sociology, anthropology and ethnography, history and psychology. Pollen said: “The conference provided a rare and welcome opportunity to bring practice and theory together, in a city of central importance to British shoemaking history.”
Scenes from the conference were the subject of a photo feature on the BBC website.