Too much righteous rage: Slave style necklaces, British Raj soup

by Rashmee

Posted on March 4, 2013



French Colonial style, United States
A French Colonial style house in Louisiana – an early example of such architecture in the US

If you object to ‘slave style’ jewellery (a steal at 24.99 euros in Mango), would you reject a French Colonial style house? Or a Dutch Colonial or a Spanish Colonial?

All of these are architectural styles that developed in the US and they obviously refer to disparate imperialist adventurers and their record in the New World.

Why isn’t anyone protesting?

They’ve been up in arms about Mango’s ‘slave style’ necklace. Apparently, French actresses Aissa Maiga and Sonia Rolland and columnist Rokkaya Diallo, managed to get an online petition going to protest against the commercial tendency to make a “fashion” out of “slavery”.

At least 1,600 people felt enough righteous indignation as to sign. The petition, addressed to Mango’s public relations office, lamented that “this jewellery is meant to make an object of fantasy and fashion out of slavery.” It went on to protest at Mango’s insensitivity in “trivialising tragedies… that still today have an impact on millions of human beings across the world.”

Mango apologised as quickly as it could, blaming a “translation error” (the babuble was tagged “collier (necklace) style esclave” but “esclava” simply means on retailer Mango on Monday apologised and the minor kerfuffle briefly made it into the news headlines.

British Raj, India, Empire
India’s experience of the British Raj was hardly an unrelieved joy: The Queen’s Own Madras Sappers and Miners in the late 19th century

Even so, what to make of this epidemic of reflexive righteous rage? Slave-style jewellery has been around forever and it is exactly what the style started out as – the shackles of one human being owned by another. Take a look at http://www.body-jewelry-shop.com/sale/35.html. It sells “Slave Style” jewellery, particularly “Jeweled Slave Straight Barbells/Tongue RingsCode: B-7-3A, price: $4.99.”

Do French Colonial style houses trivialise colonialism? Does a British Raj-style menu reduce India’s experience of imperialism to Mulligatawny soup? Surely not.


Rashmee has lived and worked in several countries in the past decade, including Afghanistan, India, Haiti, Tunisia, the UAE, US and UK

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