Sarah Fee


Sarah Fee is Curator of Eastern Hemisphere Textiles & Costume at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), Toronto, Canada, and affiliated faculty of the Art Department, University of Toronto. She is responsible for the ROM's renowned collection of c. 15,000 items of textile and dress from Asia, Africa and the Islamic world. With graduate degrees in anthropology and African studies (MSt-Oxford University, PhD-INALCO,Paris), Sarah's major research and publications focus on the island of Madagascar, particularly the Tandroy cattle herders of the southern tip. Most recently, with the support of an SSHRC Insight Grant, she has been studying the conjoined weaving histories of the western Indian Ocean world, particularly of the nineteenth century. Other research interests include the history of museum display and collecting.

She is a member of the International Editorial Board of the Textile Museum Journal, and a chercheuse affilie at the Musee du Quai Branly, Paris.



(Forthcoming, 2018) Living threads: the Textile Arts of Madagascar


1996 with Narivelo Rajaonarimanana. Dictionnaire Malgache dialectale: Tandroy-Francais. Paris: l'Asiatheque.


(In press 2017) with Pedro Machado and Gwyn Campbell. An Ocean of Cloth:Textile Trades, Consumer Cultures and the Textile Worlds of the Indian Ocean. Palgrave Macmillan

2009 with Gabriel Lefevre and Noël Gueunier. ‘Plantes et Sociétés/People and Plants’. A special issue of Etudes Ocean Indien (INALCO, Paris).

2002 with Christine Mullen Kreamer. Objects as Envoys: Cloth, Diplomacy and Imagery in Madagascar. Seattle: University of Washington Press.

2000 with Sophie Blanchy and Lala Raharijanahary Reconsidering ‘la femme malgache’ : new perspectives on gender in Madagascar. Special Issue of Taloha, the journal of the Museum of the University of Madagascar, vol. 13.

Peer reviewed journal articles and book chapters

In Press [2017] ‘Filling hearts with joy: handcrafted “Indian textile” exports to central eastern Africa in the nineteenth century’ in Edward Alpers and Chhaya Goswami, eds., Trans-regional trade and traders: situating Gujarat in the Indian Ocean from early times to c. 1900, Oxford University Press.

In Press [2017] ‘”Cloth with Names”’: luxury textile imports in eastern Africa, ca. 1800-1885’, Textile History.

In Press [2017]‘”The dearest thing on the East African coast”: the forgotten western Indian Ocean trade in Muscat cloth in the nineteenth century.’  In Pedro Machado, Sarah Fee, and Gwyn Campbell eds. An Ocean of Cloth:Textile Trades, Consumer Cultures and the Textile Worlds of the Indian Ocean. Palgrave Macmillan.

2013 ‘The shape of fashion: the historic silk brocades (akotifahana) of highland Madagascar.’ African Arts Autumn, 46(3):26-39.

2012 ‘Historic handweaving in highlands Madagascar: new insights from a vernacular text attributed to a royal diviner healer, c. 1870.’ Textile History 43(1): 62-84.

2011a ‘The political economy of an art form: the akotifahana cloth of Madagascar and trade networks in the Southwest Indian Ocean.’ In Walter Little and Patricia Macaulney, eds., Textile Economies. Power and Value from the Local to the Transnational. Lanham: Altamira Press, pp. 77-100.

2011b   ‘Not for art’s sake: an early exhibition of Pre-columbiana at the Toledo Museum of Art, 1928-29.’ Museum Anthropology, Spring 34(1): 13-27.

Editorial reviewed book chapters and articles

In Press [2017] with Samuel Sanchez ‘Edouard Loarer and  “Marchandises d’importation propres au commerce de la côte de Zanguébar »,  c. 1848.’ In Solo Raharinjanahary, Lala Raharinjanahary , Narivelo Rajaonarimanana, Brigitte Rasoloniaina and Sarah Fee, eds., Homage au Professeur Noël Gueunier, Paris : Karthala.

2016 ‘British scarlet broadcloth: the perfect red in eastern Africa, c. 1820-1900’ in Jonathan Faiers and Mary Westernman Bulgarellea, eds. Colors in Fashion, London: Bloomsbury, pp. 187-198.

2015 ‘A forgotten “hybrid” art: the carved bed panels of nineteenth-century Imerina’. Tsingy(Revue du Centre d’Histoire de l’Université de la Réunion) 17:67-78 [Noel J. Gueunier second author].

2013 ‘Hostage to Cloth: European Explorers in East Africa, 1850-1890.’ Proceedings of the Textile Society of America 13th Bi-annual Symposium, “Textiles and Politics” Washington, D.C., 2012. Digital Commons.

2013 ‘Anthropology and Materiality.’  In Sandy Black, Amy de la Haye, Joanne Entwhistle, Regina Root, Helen Thomas, and Agnes Rocamora, eds. The Handbook of Fashion Studies, London: Berg.

2011 ‘Futa Benadir: A Somali Tradition within the Folds of the Western Indian Ocean.’ In Susan Cooksey ed., Africa Interweave. Textile Diasporas. Gainseville: University of Florida Harn Art Museum, pp. 120-127.

2010  ‘Silks and Soga: an historical survey of cloth imports in Madagascar.’ In Chantal Radimilahy and N. Rajaonarimanana eds, Civilisations des Mondes Insulaires. Paris: Karthala, pp. 299-336.

2009 ‘Recipes from the Past:highland textile dyes in19th century Merina sources.’ Etudes Océan Indien, 42-43:143-174. [first author, with Bako Rasoarifetra who assisted in gathering data].

2008   ‘Handicapped heroes, Sambilo the bull, and the treacherous terrain of polygynous relations in southern Madagascar.’Etudes Océan Indien. No. 40-41 (De l’éclosion à l’épanouissement de la littérature malgache. Variations littéraires): 23-46.

2005    ‘Ze mañeva aze. Looking for patterns in Malagasy textiles.’ In Ruth Barnes and David Parkin, eds. Textiles in Indian Ocean Societies. London: Routledge, pp. 85-109.

2004   Textile traditions of Southwest Madagascar.’ In Chap Kusimba, Claire Odland and Ben Bronson, eds. Unwrapping Madagascar's Textile Traditions. Los Angeles: Fowler Museum/The Field Museum of Natural History, pp. 92-111.

2002   ‘Textiles in Motion: Madagascar's Textiles through History.’ In Christine Kreamer and Sarah Fee, eds. Objects as Envoys: Cloth, Diplomacy and Imagery in Madagascar. Seattle: University of Washington Press, pp. 33-94.

2000       ‘Enga: further descriptive notes on Tandroy funerary exchange.’ In Claude Allibert and Narivelo Rajaonarimanana, eds. L'extraordinaire et le quotidien. Variations anthropologiques. Paris: Karthala, pp. 523-530.