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  • Published: 5 March 2020
  • ISBN: 9780141986289
  • Imprint: Penguin Press
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 256
  • RRP: $22.99

Don't Touch My Hair




A groundbreaking cultural history of black hair, blending both the personal and political

Recent years have seen the conversation around black hair reach tipping point, yet detractors still proclaim 'it's only hair!' when it never is. This book is about why black hair matters and how it can be viewed as a blueprint for decolonisation. The author takes us from pre-colonial Africa, through the Harlem Renaissance, Black Power and into today's Natural Hair Movement, the Cultural Appropriation Wars and beyond. We look at the trajectory from hair capitalists like Madam CJ Walker in the early 1900s to the rise of Shea Moisture today, touching on everything from women's solidarity and friendship, to forgotten African scholars, to 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 hair styles, 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.

  • Published: 5 March 2020
  • ISBN: 9780141986289
  • Imprint: Penguin Press
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 256
  • RRP: $22.99

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Praise for Don't Touch My Hair

Both a richly researched cultural history and a voyage to empowerment.

Colin Grant, Guardian

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.

Yrsa Daley-Ward

Sensational

Women's Health

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.

Hotpress

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

Francesca Brown, Stylist

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

Bernardine Evaristo, The Times Literary Supplement Books of the Year

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

Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff, Guardian

An excellent and far reaching book...a call to arms for black African culture

Irish Times

A powerful and arrestingly relatable account of the rich history of Afro hair that seamlessly interweaves her personal perspective with meticulously researched historical facts

Metro

Dabiri's brilliant book recognises that black hair - particularly women's hair - is charged with social and racial significance

Tank

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

Diana Evans, Observer Books of the Year

FASCINATING, educational, personal, humble and engaging. I urge you to read it!

Marian Keyes

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