Entanglement: The Secret Lives of Hair
When it's not attached to your head, your very own hair takes on a disconcerting quality. Suddenly, it is strange. And yet hair finds its way into all manner of unexpected places, far from our heads, including cosmetics, clothes, ropes, personal and public collections, and even food. Whether treated as waste or as gift, relic, sacred offering or commodity in a billion-dollar industry for wigs and hair extensions, hair has many stories to tell. Collected from Hindu temples and Buddhist nunneries and salvaged by the strand from waste heaps and the combs of long-haired women, hair flows into the industry from many sources. Entering this strange world, Emma Tarlo travels the globe, tracking its movement across India, Myanmar, China, Africa, the United States, Britain and Europe, where she meets people whose livelihoods depend on hair. Viewed from inside Chinese wig factories, Hindu temples and the villages of Myanmar, or from Afro hair fairs, Jewish wig parlours, fashion salons and hair loss clinics in Britain and the United States, hair is oddly revealing of the lives of all it touches. From fashion and beauty to religion, politics and cultural identity, Emma Tarlo explores just how much our locks and curls tell us about who we are. Full of surprising revelations and penetrating insights, Entanglement will change the way you see hair for ever.
'This is a book about the only crop we routinely harvest from our own bodies - hair. From that disconnection come amazing tales: histories of paupers and pedlars in Europe, vast global trades in wigs, poignant stories of chemotherapy and memorialisation...Tarlo has done an extraordinary job of reattaching hair to humanity.' -- Daniel Miller, professor of anthropology, University College London, and author of Stuff and The Comfort of Things 'I will never think about hair the same way after reading Emma Tarlo's brilliant, fascinating book!' -- Valerie Steele, author of The Corset: A Cultural History, and director and chief curator, The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology 'A timely book that takes a fascinating journey through the business practices and politics of hair, and the questionable relationship between hair dealers, middle-men and the consumer.' -- Professor Caroline Cox, author of How to be Adored 'In Entanglement Tarlo opens up a whole secret world of human hair, its diverse social meanings across cultures and the robust trade of it that has carried on for centuries across the world. She weaves in historical details that address issues of religion, symbolism, fashion and economy, and presents ethnographic encounters with a range of characters from Dakkar to Wenzhou, Chennai to New York - millionaire wig dealers, impoverished villagers sorting comb waste, temple officials and fashionable women - who all perform an important role in this ubiquitous but unseen trade. This book is for everybody who is curious about how a single object can become a sought after commodity around the globe. Entanglement is beautifully written and while based on rigorous academic research it eschews jargon and makes the fascinating story of hair the centrepiece of the narrative. A most rewarding and edifying read.' -- Mukulika Banerjee, anthropologist, London School of Economics and Political Science