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Don't touch my hair / Emma Dabiri.

  • Dabiri, Emma
  • Books

About this work


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. Over a series of wry, informed essays, 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 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.


[London] : Allen Lane, 2019.

Physical description

243 pages, 1 unnumbered page : black and white illustrations ; 23 cm


Bibliographic information

Includes bibliographical references (pages 235-[244]).


It's only hair -- Ain't got the time -- Shhh ... just relax -- How can he love himself and hate your hair? -- Everybody wants to sing my blues, nobody wants to live my blues -- Ancient futures : maths, mapping, braiding, encoding.


  • English

Where to find it

  • LocationStatus
    History of Medicine
    Open shelves

Permanent link



  • 0241308348
  • 9780241308349