Entanglement: The Secret Lives of Hair

Tarlo, Emma. 2017. Entanglement: The Secret Lives of Hair. London: Oneworld. ISBN 9781786071613 [Book]

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Abstract or Description

When no longer attached to the head, human hair is disconcerting. Sometimes treated as waste or as gift, relic, sacred offering or commodity, it reveals much about our notions of health, fashion, beauty, sex, religion, race, cultural identity, aging and mortality.

Whether it’s being harvested in Indian temples, crafted into wigs in China, untangled in rural workshops across Asia or sold as extensions in the United States, Europe and Africa, human hair is part of a hidden but expanding global trade. Entangled in religion, politics and cultural identity, it finds second lives in wigs, toupees, rope, embroidery, paintbrushes, fertiliser and proteins. But what happens when different hair worlds collide?

In 'Entanglement' Emma Tarlo follows the secret global journeys of hair. She meets the collectors, untanglers, stitchers, knotters, traders, buyers and wearers of hair as she tracks its movement across India, Myanmar, China, Africa, the United States and Europe. Entering the closed spaces of Chinese factories, Afro hair fairs, Jewish wig parlours, Hindu and Buddhist temples and hair loss clinics, she investigates what hair means in different circumstances and how it connects the lives of people with very different aspirations and needs in distant parts of the world.

Item Type:



hair, global trade, wigs, hair extensions, Chinese factories, Indian temples, Jewish sheitels, untangling hair

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



3 August 2017

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

21 Oct 2016 10:28

Last Modified:

02 Mar 2021 14:23



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