Salon 33 Hair

The average person loses about fifty to one hundred hairs every day. When detached from the human head, hair transforms into many things – as waste, relic, sacred offering, or even a commodity. On a global scale, hair is a billion-dollar industry that includes everything from conditioning and styling products to the organic material itself, connecting consumers with scientists, designers, stylists, growers, buyers, traders, and wig-makers across Brazil, Cameroon, China, Europe, India, Myanmar, Nigeria, Senegal, Vietnam, and the United States. Serving many needs across our globalized world, hair is a tool of soft-power for maintaining tradition and reflecting regional cultures. A powerful symbol of identity, hair is both profoundly personal yet a universal transcultural symbol that reveals our nuanced understanding of beauty, fashion, health, sex, gender, race, religion, status, and mortality.

Some of the questions we strived to answer: If there is a politics of hair, how can we tease out alliances and break common ground? How does hair function as a structure of identity, for an individual and for a community? To what extent is hair care a tradition? Material culture? A physical form of oral history? Can hair tell a nation’s history? Can styling act as a tool to bridge generations? To bridge cultures? How is style a symbol of status? Is hair care a form of self-care or rather a necessity? Can hair styling be masochistic? Is hair dyeing personal expression, a political act, or even a tool for social mobility? In what ways are different hair textures different languages? Can one achieve fluency across textural and cultural boundaries? Can one’s hair ever be truly natural? In an immigration context, to what extent is hair a potential for either assimilation or a marker of cultural pride? To what extent is hair a raw material to be harvested? A commodity? An affirmation? A sign of beauty? Of pride? Of shame? Of power?

This salon took place on October 2nd, 2019.


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