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Title: What do I do with my hair? : identity, performance and social representations of Black hair in women of colour in England and Germany
Author: Lukate, Johanna Melissa
ISNI:       0000 0004 7661 229X
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2019
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The Natural Hair Movement is changing how women of colour make sense of their hair and what they do with their hair. By encouraging women of colour to embrace the natural - afro, kinky or curly - texture of their hair, the Natural Hair Movement produces social representations of natural hair that reproduce, challenge and transform prevailing social representations of Black hair. Using the Natural Hair Movement as a starting point, this social psychological study draws on hair as a window through which to explore the bi-directional relationship between women of colour in England and Germany and their social world as the site of meaning making and identity construction. The theoretical framework underpinning this study is informed by social representations theory as well as Mead's work on the formation of the self and Honneth's theory of the struggle for recognition. However, as a study interested in women of colour in England and Germany, this project is also deeply grounded in the Black feminist thought literature. In researching social representations and identities, this study has taken a multi-method approach that involves photography, ethnographic observations at hair salons and hair events, as well as interviews with women, hair dressers, bloggers and other experts in England and Germany. Data collected in this way were triangulated and analysed according to the principle of thematic analysis as outlined by Braun and Clarke (2006). Moreover, a geospatial analysis of social media data was performed to study the spread and growth of the Natural Hair Movement on a global scale. As a whole, this thesis offers us a way to understand how representations are dialogically re/produced and signified by and on the body. Moreover, it demonstrates how women of colour's identities and sense of self are negotiated, expressed, embodied and performed in and through hair textures and styles. Taken together, these findings allow us to complicate and refine existing theories and provide new avenues for social psychological research to engage with the global challenges and social issues of today.
Supervisor: Foster, Juliet L. Sponsor: Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Black hair ; identity ; social representations ; dialogicality ; the self ; embodiement ; beauty ; Blackness ; qualitatative data