Tineke Rooijakkers

Winner Dissertation Prize 2017

Dress Norms and Markers: A Comparative Study of Coptic Identity and Dress in the Past and Present.

Supervisor: Prof. dr. Beate Roessler
Co-supervisor: Dr. Robin Celikates
Nomination: University of Amsterdam, Faculty of Humanities (Political Philosophy & Digital Media)

Report by the selection committee

This dissertation stands out in its combination of archaeological and anthropological approaches to the important element of dress as an identity marker. It offers fascinating insights into Coptic life in everyday Egypt in the late antique/medieval and contemporary period. Insights about how dress works across the public and the private spheres. The aim of understanding the role of dress in the construction of a religious group identity is being delved into by the author in a very elaborate and conscientious manner, only to emerge out of the dusty rubble with a crystal clear comparative analysis. Remarkably, the argument that emerges about ‘difference’, is it not being the primary marker of Coptic dress in relation to the Muslim community. This highly readable book, beautifully presented, goes beyond its specific topic in making us think about conceptions of minority populations in general, and gender roles through the ages in particular.