From 2009 through 2012, Pop’Africana emerged as the definitive magazine delivering a rejuvenated perspective on all aspects of the arte Africano. African creatives, industry insiders and culture enthusiast alike found a medium in Pop’Africana that spoke to their aesthetic sensibilities, ideas of individualism and a visual dialogue that was not trite or cliché. This vision to offer inspired imagery and honest dialogue now continues through The Africana Book of Style, a Pop’Africana series exploring old African traditions, Afro-cosmopolitanism and style.
In this first edition of The Africana Book of Style, we invite writers of all backgrounds to join us in exploring the Black/Natural Hair Phenomenon and to offer a unique and diachronic perspective on the culture, aesthetics and rhetoric on hair of African origin.
Hair holds an import within African societies, past and present. Pre-colonial African societies viewed hair as an integral part of their multifaceted language system. With hair came a conduit through which Africans could impart messages of emotional well being, age, marital status, ethnicity, rank, wealth, and so on. The presence of unkempt or messy hair for instance, signified insanity or loose morals within the Mende while a disheveled mane of Wolof women was deemed acceptable for a specified mourning period so as not to attract other men. In the Ogba tribe of Rivers people of Nigeria, a shaven head is even required in mourning the loss of a husband. This sociocultural pull of hair is also matched by aesthetic values that were commanded by intricate plaiting and decorative styles. We need only peruse the work of the late J. D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere to visualize the sculptural qualities of hair and consider that natural African hair represents a time immemorial edifice.
If we muse upon the unmitigated growth of hair of African origin as well as its place as symbol of freedom, identity, and individuality, it becomes apparent that this sociocultural structure we know as hair has always occupied an ambivalent space physically and culturally, but why is this? This ambivalence is played out in varied manners, with the most critical instance being the schism that African hair
1ST EDITION POP’AFRICANA’S THE AFRICANA BOOK OF STYLE
culture has had to deal with following its migration from the African continent. With this geographical and cultural separation, has the historicity of
natural African hair as an expression of individuality waned in contemporary times?
Hair politics dictates patterns of thought and behavior within private and public spheres of contemporary media and environment and these patterns are subject to selective censure. Can black hair be depoliticized? Why are conversations on black hair divisive and even contentious in nature? By delving into the aesthetic sensibilities of hair and how it is applied to individuality, can we chart the effect African hair has, natural or permed, on how one navigates and identifies with ideas of blackness or Africanity? Can this validation of Africanity that comes with natural African hair move away from being a tool of inclusion and exclusion? Are you a natural hair convert or divert? What have been your experience been with conversion or diversion? Guilt? Backlash? Praise?
By documenting and exploring varied perspectives, we aim to open up dialogue surrounding the politics of Black hair especially within African communities and households. This dialogue could touch on history, aesthetics, economics, and the human experience, with topics as varied as the critical evolution of hair knowledge and how it is conveyed in progeny, baldness as a choice or third space in the natural hair diversion/conversion dialectic, or the economic landscape within the beauty industry as it relates to Natural/Black hair.
We invite essays from writers of all backgrounds – artists, curators, art historians, and theoreticians, scholars – not exceeding 3500 words in length, discussing the above mentioned or related issues.
Deadline: 10th June 2014
Submissions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Additionally, we are interested in general articles such as artist-features, exhibition reviews and previews of around 1500 words but all related to Black hair and the Natural hair phenomenon.
· Manuscripts not exceeding 3500 words in length, as text document without formatting · Author’s names and short biography of ca. 100 words at the end of the article
· Manuscripts must be submitted in English
· All bibliographic references must be included in the document’s last page