Politics of Patents – ERC project

Politics of Patents: Re-imagining citizenship via clothing inventions 1820-2020 is a five year research project I am leading that is funded by a European Union Horizon 2020 ERC Consolidator Grant #819458.

This ambitious project expands my creative STS practice research into the fascinating histories of wearable technology via 200 years of patented inventions, with a particular focus on political acts of resistance through clothing.

The project explores connections between citizens and clothing. I am interested in understanding how inventors create new forms of clothing, like these examples and many others, that resist, subvert or disrupt social and political norms and beliefs, and in the process, bring new expressions of citizenship into being.

Over the course of the project the research team (RF, RA, 2 xPDs, PhD) and I will seek to bring to life, in archival research, stories and costumes, lesser-known and forgotten attempts by inventors to radically re-imagine citizenship by seeking to shape the way bodies are clothed in different discourses and made (or not made) to “fit” with new technologies, changing mobility practices, environmental conditions, borders, socio-political and gender norms and more.

Inventors are the focus of the research as they operate on the cutting edge of social and political change; building on the past to make claims on the present and imagine different futures.

Methodologically, we are using an inventive mixed-methods approach including quantitative and in-depth visual and document analysis, interviews with inventors and garment reconstruction.