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Why We Can't Have Nice Things

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In Why We Can't Have Nice Things, Minh-Ha T. Pham examines the way social media users monitor the fashion market for the appearance of knockoff fashion, design theft, and plagiarism.

Tracing the history of fashion antipiracy efforts back to the 1930s, she foregrounds how the work of policing has been tacitly outsourced to social media. Despite the social media concern for ethical fashion and consumption and the good intentions behind design policing, Pham shows that it has ironically deepened forms of social and market inequality, considering its reliance and reinforcement of racist and colonial norms and ideas about what constitutes copying and what counts as creativity.

These struggles over ethical fashion and intellectual property constitute deeper struggles. By engaging with them we can more closely examine the colonial legacies of cultural property in today's digital and global economies.

160 pages. Hardcover.

About the Author

Minh-Ha T. Pham is Associate Professor in the Graduate Program in Media Studies at the Pratt Institute and author of Asians Wear Clothes on the Internet: Race, Gender, and the Work of Personal Style Blogging, also published by Duke University Press. 

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