Don't Touch My Hair

Don't Touch My Hair

4.38 (152 ratings by Goodreads)
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'Groundbreaking' Guardian

Straightened. Stigmatised. 'Tamed'. Celebrated. Erased. Managed. Appropriated. Forever misunderstood. Black hair is never 'just hair'.

This book is about why black hair matters.

Emma Dabiri takes us from pre-colonial Africa, through the Harlem Renaissance, Black Power and on to today's Natural Hair Movement, the Cultural Appropriation Wars and beyond. We look at everything from hair capitalists like Madam C.J. Walker in the early 1900s to the rise of Shea Moisture today, from women's solidarity and friendship to 'black people time', forgotten African scholars and the dubious provenance of Kim Kardashian's braids.

The scope of black hairstyling ranges from pop culture to cosmology, from prehistoric times to the (afro)futuristic. Uncovering sophisticated indigenous mathematical systems in black hairstyles, alongside styles that served as secret intelligence networks leading enslaved Africans to freedom, Don't Touch My Hair proves that far from being only hair, black hairstyling culture can be understood as an allegory for black oppression and, ultimately, liberation.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 256 pages
  • 144 x 222 x 26mm | 377g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0241308348
  • 9780241308349
  • 107,371

Review Text

Both a richly researched cultural history and a voyage to empowerment. Colin Grant Guardian
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Review quote

A future face of literature * i-D * A Non-Fiction Book of the Year 2019 * Stylist * A Rising Star of 2019 * Observer * A powerful and arrestingly relatable account of the rich history of Afro hair that seamlessly interweaves her personal perspective with meticulously researched historical facts * Metro * Dabiri's brilliant book recognises that black hair - particularly women's hair - is charged with social and racial significance * Tank * An excellent and far reaching book...a call to arms for black African culture * Irish Times * Groundbreaking...Her sources are rich, diverse and sometimes heartbreaking. Some books make us feel seen and for me, that is what Don't Touch My Hair does. I would urge everyone to read it -- Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff * Guardian * The first book from one of Ireland's brightest literary talents, Don't Touch My Hair brilliantly deconstructs western views of everything from beauty to social value systems, and even to our understanding of time, all through the lens of how African cultures value hair. * Hotpress * Pulled together with meticulous research, Don't Touch My Hair is an unmissable read by a writer who's set to become a household name -- Francesca Brown * Stylist * Sensational * Women's Health * A triumph! Refeshingly accessible, enlightening and thorough ... an impeccably researched journey into our Black Hair and the ideas and feelings that have surrounded it, to this day. -- Yrsa Daley-Ward Both a richly researched cultural history and a voyage to empowerment. -- Colin Grant * Guardian *
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About Emma Dabiri

Emma Dabiri is a teaching fellow in the Africa department at SOAS and a Visual Sociology PhD researcher at Goldsmiths. She has been published in a number of anthologies - alongside such post-colonial heavyweights as Homi Bhabha and Achille Mbembe - and academic journals, as well as the national press. A regular BBC face, she presented Back in Time Brixton (BBC2) and Britain's Lost Masterpieces (BBC4), as well as the sociological experiment Is Love Racist? (Channel 4). Most recently, she hosted Radio 4's critically-acclaimed documentary Journeys into Afro-futurism.

Her hair has been disappointing people since birth.
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Rating details

152 ratings
4.38 out of 5 stars
5 53% (81)
4 34% (51)
3 12% (18)
2 1% (1)
1 1% (1)
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