Patent illustrations used with permission from the European Patent Office Espacenet.

Politics of Patents: researching, making and wearing clothing inventions


Michael Young (MYB2), Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA

Refreshments will be available from 13:30              Duration: 14:00 - 15:00


Dr. Kat Jungnickel, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Goldsmiths College, University of London, will present on the 'Politics of Patents'. Dr. Jess Perriam will be the discussant for the session.


Clothing is a critical socio-technology of everyday life; both mundane and familiar and invested with social and political significance. The political subject is (almost) always dressed (and even when they are not, this too is a potent act). Yet, clothing is underexplored in relation to understandings of citizenship. Drawing on archival materials, patents and STS and feminist technoscience, I argue that clothing is a critical means through which different bodies are made to ‘fit’, physically and ideologically, with changing ideas about being in and moving through public space. I will discuss a current project on convertible cycling costumes patented by early women cyclists at the turn of last century. I also introduce a new ERC funded project that continues my creative practice research into the histories of politics and clothing via 200 years of patented inventions (1820-2020) exploring past innovation, absent conflicts and forgotten attempts by inventors to radically re-imagine citizenship by seeking to change the way bodies have been dressed.