Straightened. Stigmatised. 'Tamed'. Celebrated. Erased. Managed. Appropriated. Forever misunderstood. Black hair is never 'just hair'.
This book is about why black hair matters and how it can be viewed as a blueprint for decolonisation. 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.
Emma Dabiri's groundbreaking Don't Touch My Hair is a scintillating, intellectual investigation into black women and the very serious business of our hair, as it pertains to race, gender, social codes, tradition, culture, cosmology, maths, politics, philosophy and history, and also the role of hairstyles in pre-colonial Africa
FASCINATING, educational, personal, humble and engaging. I urge you to read it!
I've been pleasantly engrossed this autumn in Emma Dabiri's nonfiction debut Don't Touch My Hair. Part memoir, part spiky, thoroughly researched socio-political analysis, it delves deep into the painful realities and history of follicular racism
Both a richly researched cultural history and a voyage to empowerment.
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.
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
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.
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
An excellent and far reaching book...a call to arms for black African culture
Kerri ní Dochartaigh recommends a list of books to mark St. Patrick's Day 2022, from folk tales to social commentary.
The author of What White People Can Do Next discusses her current recommended read on the Penguin Podcast: a fascinating, lesser-known narrative from 1861.
Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff from gal-dem interviews Emma Dabiri on her debut book, Don’t Touch My Hair. From pre-colonial Africa and anti-capitalism, to European beauty standards and the experience of growing up mixed-race in Ireland, they discuss why black hair matters.