Sa Lapo Ki Nou Ladan (The Skin We’re In): Explorations into Skin Politics

Saturday 6th July 2024, LVMH Lecture Theatre, Central St Martins, 1 Granary Square, King’s Cross, London, N1C 4AA

CIAD’s third biennial dress conference is about the way skin has been used as a descriptor and signifier of identity and existence within the African Diaspora and the wider world. Skin has been used as a canvas for creative and cultural expression as well as being viewed of as a “costume” or dressed appearance in some fields. The very existence of the diaspora population is, in part, the result of false beliefs about dark skin and the behaviours of people who possess it.

Over the years this false impression has fostered a global negative perception of dark skin that has systematically permeated every aspect of modern life. The symbolism and meaning attributed to the politics of skin shade is pertinent to cohesive engagement with other members of the human species and as such has developed a relevance that has become impactful to cultural practices and social mobility.

As the largest organ in the human body, the skin is a great indicator of the general health and well-being of a person and holds a great deal of significance to the social, cultural, economic, and political movements and existences of people of African heritage. However, what can be constituted as “darker skin” is relative to the beliefs maintained in one’s environment. Cultural beliefs and practices have perpetuated a false narrative about what it means to have skin of certain shades and even how those shades are received in the digital space.

For this third conference, there are three themes around the topic of skin politics:

First Theme: Colourism/ Featurism and Texturism; The challenges of phenotypic features on the creation and understanding of identity.

Second Theme: Scarification and Body Modification; How the body has been used as a canvas of cultural, emotional, or political self-expression.

Third Theme: Digital Racialisation; How technology and generative systems have been used to improve the relation to skin shade dynamics.

Researchers, writers, and relevant practitioners are being invited to submit a 300-word abstract based on one of the above themes. Please include the title of the paper and the name of the speaker. Each speaker will be allotted twenty minutes to present their paper; slide presentations are welcome but not strictly necessary.

Send submissions to

The deadline for submissions is Sunday 28th January 2024. Notification of the outcome will be advised by e-mail on or around Friday 2nd February 2024.