Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
This paper first looks at kente as a West African textile tradition and explores its cultural and historical significance for the Asante people. After contextualizing kente, it then highlights kente’s journey to the United States and its immersion into the academic sphere. Finally, the discussion focuses on the role that kente plays at Skidmore College as seen through the voices of Skidmore students, staff, and administration as they comment on the cloth and its meaning. Kente’s role at Skidmore reveals that the presence of kente at Skidmore’s commencement does not go without conflicting feelings, as the above quotations suggest. It also considers its related tensions and controversies at Skidmore in light of the college’s mission to hold diversity goals above the necessity of a united student body. Ultimately, the Skidmore community does not commit to a unanimous understanding or feeling for the kente tradition, but the kente stoles offer an interesting look at the textile’s overarching trajectory of development and change and may offer a unique way for the Skidmore community to begin including art in diversity dialogues on campus.
O'Brien, Lily, "Why Do You Dress Me in Borrowed Robes? The Role of Kente Cloth at Skidmore College" (2014). Art History Honors Projects. 11.