War Machines at Home

Andrew Gordon

in Fabricating Consumers

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780520267855
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520950313 | DOI:
War Machines at Home

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As both object of desire and tool for reform, the sewing machine tracks the story of an expanding consumer society in an era of wartime modernity. The war is said to have interrupted both the spread of household sewing machines and of women's Western dress. The story of the household mishin and its uses takes it into the back alleys, the homes, and the wardrobes of working- and middle-class families, recovering a sense of the ordinary agency of women as both subjects and consumers. Sewing machines were aligned with a wartime rationale of commitment to the state that left little time for a consumer life of pleasurable spending. Both wartime dress reforms resulted from and reinforced the already long hours of home sewing. To the war's end, by machine or by hand, women sewed for themselves and their families.

Keywords: sewing machine; wartime modernity; reform; mishin; home sewing; Western dress

Chapter.  12621 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology

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