Hair Narratives: Discourse Within African American Hair Care Practices and its Connection to Identity



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This research explores the language surrounding African American women’s hair practices and choices and how it reflects their own cultural identity. The focus is on the commonalities between hair choices and what it reveals about the culture surrounding African American women’s hairdressing communities in Houston, Texas and surrounding areas. Through a cognitive anthropological lens, it looks at the meanings and symbols used in hairdressing for African American women to understand the interactive meanings between wearers and their social environment. Cognitive anthropology as an overarching theoretical framework links human thought and physical and ideational cultural aspects together (Strauss & Quinn, 1997). This is important for analysis of linguistic discourses, interactions and narratives surrounding African American women’s hair. The methodology consisted of surveys via social media accounts for general ideals about African American women’s hair, interviews with African American hair stylists and their clients, and video media. The goal was to better understand the importance of hair dressing in African American culture, especially among women, and how it ultimately influences their way of life.



African American, Language, Hair, Cultural Identity, Identity, Anthropology