Monday, March 17, 2008


Another announcement from the Society for Cultural Anthropology listserv. This session seems perfect for visual anthropology...

Call for papers for a Volunteered Session at 2008 AAA Meeting in San Francisco

Hair, Pubic and Beyond

This session sets out to explore the complex intersections between hair practices, particular forms of human hair, and their connections to larger global markets. The aim is to undress human hair practices, to disentangle local and personal meanings, especially as they are related to "economies of choice" and issues of identity and self, articulated in practices of consumption. As Obeyeskere argued in Medusa's Hair, the hair of the head is culturally elaborated to publicly denote categories of gender, age, sex, and sexuality, at the same time that it is linked, both sensuously and symbolically, to personal and emotional understandings of selfhood. Hair is also implicated in wider processes of globalization, especially in relation to the interaction of groups and individuals with fashion trends. Hairstyles have been set apart by anthropologists, especially in relation to globalization and cultural change, diametrically as either "traditional" or "modern/fashionable." It is not enough, however, to assume that "modern" hairstyles, or the commodified dressing of hair are simply adopted forms and practices that signify consumers as a unified category of personhood. Rather, by considering localized histories and personal choices involved in the dressing of hair, structural constraints, the making of the self through hair practices and consumer practices, can fruitfully be explored.

Pubic hair and the hair of the body are also embedded in these processes. However, there has been a tendency in anthropology to consider pubic hair and body hair as different analytical categories to the hair of the head. How does the recent growth in the availability of consumer products and services, in the form of waxes and dyes, shaping and laser-removal, and the much celebrated "Brazilian" in North America, fit into a person's bodily practices of selfhood? How might these practices provide possibilities for exploring questions of sexuality and sexualization as individuals adopt and seek to define themselves in relation to these relatively emergent consumer practices? If pubic and body hair are seen as critical sites for exploring the connections between desire, pleasure, sexuality, consumption and selfhood, how are these constructed, negotiated, rejected and defined in relation to new consumer products? And how can the adoption of hairstyles, whether pubic or otherwise, be understood anthropologically as both embedded in political economies of consumption under capitalism and as processes of meaning creation for individual subjects?

Please contact :

Angelique Lalonde (PhD Candidate, Anthropology) University of
Victoria, SSHRC Fellow

Again, this seems like a great opportunity for a visual anthropology project. And Japan would certainly offer an interesting setting for such a study...

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