A Darling® of the beauty trade: race, care, and the imperial debris of synthetic hair

Caroline V. Faria, Hilary Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This article pushes for a postcolonial geography of care, through hair. Working with the ‘imperial debris’ of care as a disciplinary racial logic, we show how it is renewed, remade, and resisted in the present through the travels, narratives, and practices of the African synthetic hair trade. Here we interrogate Lebanese business expansion, entrepreneurialism, manufacture, and styling, tracing in each case how contemporary narratives of care mirror, entrench, and rework colonial ideals and subjectivities of Whiteness. Disrupting these logics, we close by attending to the influences of Ugandan stylists and consumers who draw on Caribbean, US-American, and other diasporic circuits of Blackness, along with locally rooted innovations. Our work demonstrates how racial power travels through time and across space, asserting the important and sustained insights of a postcolonial geography of care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-99
Number of pages15
JournalCultural Geographies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank all the participants for their time and openness. The research benefited from much critical reflection and workshopping in several venues and spanning five years. This included: The Humanities Institute, the Sociology Race and Ethnicity Working Group, and the Feminist Geography Collective at the University of Texas at Austin, the African and African Diaspora Studies Works in Progress series at Florida International University, and the Transcultural Bodies: Geographies of Embodiment workshop at St Gallen, Switzerland. Thank you to colleagues in these spaces, along with Sarah Abeja, Kasfah Birungi, Abena Dove Osseo-Asare, Bisola Falola, Paula De La Cruz-Fernández, Annie Elledge, Jovah Katushabe, Catherine Kyotowadde, Elisabeth Militz, Sharlene Mollett, Elizabeth O’Kane, David Robinson, Sam Pinto, Richard Schein, Carolin Schurr, Lynn Thomas, Dominica Whitesell, three anonymous reviewers and the editorial guidance of Anna Secor. Together, their incredibly instructive research assistance and intellectual engagement greatly strengthened the article. All errors are our own. The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This work was supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number 1461686 and a Social Science Research Council, International Pre-dissertation award.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2019.


  • Africa
  • beauty
  • care
  • feminist postcolonial geography
  • race

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Cultural Studies
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'A Darling® of the beauty trade: race, care, and the imperial debris of synthetic hair'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this