Call for Book Chapters: “Untangling the Knots of Identity: Afro Hair and Blackness”

Vernon Press invites chapter proposals for the volume "Untangling the Knots of Identity: Afro Hair and Blackness".

Hair texture shapes ideas about images of beauty and sexuality, but also about race, gender, class and power. This is because hair is not just a social episode, i.e., a consequence of a natural characteristic (being), but also a social act that produces an outcome (doing). Every-day actions and practices socialise hair, making it political, i.e., a medium of statements about/between the Self and the society.

Afro-hair has been, and remains, a site of political struggle and a contended item in the cultural divide amongst Africans and Afro-descendants. The natural hair movement (also known as ‘Nappy movement’) shows how hair can go from being a white mask to being a symbol of Black pride. This movement points out the state of double consciousness: it looks back to the past, recovering the cultural and historical baggage of Afro hair, raising questions of identity, moving from routine inducted hairdos; but it is also future-oriented, being a cultural innovation that acts in the real world through processes of re-signification of the standards of beauty. It speaks to the exodused Black – encouraging greater self-consciousness of beauty practices – and to the white people (American at first, but now also to English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, etc.) – challenging for acknowledgement, inclusion and respect.

We invite submissions that take ‘Afro-hair’ as a unit of analysis and discuss the intersection between the socio-cultural context and hair textures/hairstyles by exploring what is considered good hair and bad hair; how Afro-hair can be a symbol of Black resistance to oppression and a means through which Black people practice their agency in the world; the meaning of the Black diaspora in this context and the collective belonging to the Nappy community; the health and economic implications of beauty standards.

Contributions are expected to cover, but not limited to, the following areas:

  • Hair politics and Afro hairdos history.
  • Afro-textured hair, Black aesthetic, anti-racist aesthetics, body politics and Black resistance.
  • Afro-textured hair care, education, and informal learning.
  • Transnational identities and double consciousness.
  • Power, structure, social mask/white mask, stigma.
  • Resistance, agency, performance, re-signification.
  • Cultural appropriation, race allegiance and identity.
  • Birth, development, social and political impact of the natural hair movement in countries other than the United States – ‘neo-African’ approach to the aesthetic in diaspora culture formations.
  • Experiences of Black women, men, and non-binary people with natural hair, patterns and practices.
  • The political dimensions of hair and hairstyle choices in the Black community.


How to Submit Your Proposal

Please submit a 500-words (max) proposal along with a preliminary reference list up to five titles, and a short biography by 22nd November 2020 to both Benjamina Efua Dadzie ( and Marta Mezzanzanica ( with the subject line “Untangling the Knots of Identity”.

Following the deadline, the editors will be in touch with contributors with news about proposal acceptance and the outcome of the abstract review process in the months thereafter. Accepted submissions will comprise a c.8,000 words chapter, including references and figures.

This proposal is due on November 22nd 2020.

Page last updated on September 18th 2020. All information correct at the time, but subject to change.