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Creative Innovation Across Disciplines

Fashioning Human Hair for the Global Market: The Discrete but Central role of China

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Creative Innovation Across Disciplines is a seminar series taking place in the School of Art & Design, Nottingham Trent University in June - July 2015. As part of the series, Professor Emma Tarlo presents: Fashioning Human Hair for the Global Market: The discrete but central role of China.

  • From: Thursday 25 June 2015, 12 am
  • To: Thursday 25 June 2015, 12 am
  • Location: N35, Newton building, Main Entrance, Nottingham Trent University, City Campus, Goldsmith Street, Nottingham, NG1 4BU
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Event details

As part of the Creative Innovation Across Disciplines Seminar Series at the School of Art & Design, Professor Emma Tarlo presents: Fashioning Human Hair for the Global Market: The Discrete but central role of China.

Short abstract 

Advertisements for wigs and hair extensions made from human hair extol the benefits and specificities of hair classified as 'Indian', 'European', 'Brazilian' 'Mongolian' and 'Malaysian.' Rarely do they ever boast of offering 'Chinese' hair. Yet China plays a central role in the collection, preparation and transformation of raw hair into a range of products from mass produced fashion wigs, bespoke hair pieces for people with hair loss and hair extensions with curl patterns designed to cater to specific ethnic tastes and preferences. In addition Chinese hair has long been exported in bulk for use in Western hair fashions. This paper explores the muted yet central role played by China in upholding cosmopolitan hair fashions around the world, suggesting that China has long played a discrete, and at times invisible role in maintaining the hair styles of women in Europe, the United States and more recently, West Africa.

Speaker biography

Emma Tarlo is a Professor of Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London. Much of her work focuses on fashion, materiality and body politics in transnational contexts involving Europe and Asia. Her publications include Clothing Matters: dress and identity in India (winner of the Coomaraswamy Prize 1998) and Visibly Muslim: Fashion, Politics, Faith (Berg 2010) which focuses on contemporary Muslim dress practices in Britain. She is also co-editor with Annelies Moors of Islamic Fashion and Anti-fashion: New Perspectives from Europe and North America (Bloomsbury 2013). She is currently recipient of a Major Research Fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust and is writing a book about the global trade in human hair, drawing on fieldwork conducted in India, China, USA and Europe.


If you are interested in attending or for further information please email Dr Iryna Kuksa, or come along on the day of the seminar.

Location details


N35, Newton building, Main Entrance


Nottingham Trent University
City Campus
Goldsmith Street

Past event

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