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Spiritual hair: dreadlocks and the bodies multiple in Rastafari

Glace, Nathan, Waldstein, Anna (2021) Spiritual hair: dreadlocks and the bodies multiple in Rastafari. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 28 (1). ISSN 1359-0987. E-ISSN 1467-9655. (In press) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:86563)

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Abstract

In anthropology the body is theorized, manifested and experienced in multiple ways that impact medical practice, social life, biopolitics, and spirituality. This paper considers the role of ‘dreadlocks’ (matted hair) in the Rastafari spiritual body and, guided by the ‘body multiple’ concept, explores how the symbolic and performative nature of hair articulates with age and gender. Ethnographic data from the UK suggest the ways dreadlocks are groomed and/or covered vary widely, revealing diversity and changing meanings attributed to matted hair. By focusing on the spiritual aspects of hair our work shows that dreadlocks and baldness are outward (visible) and inward (hidden) manifestations of a covenant with Jah (the Creator), rather than contrasting social or psychological statements. The hair symbolism debate in anthropology reveals limitations of universalist and reductionist approaches to understanding the human body. Our Rastafari material suggests the body multiple provides a better framework for interpreting (African inspired) spiritual hair.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled keywords: African diaspora, embodiment, spiritual body, body multiple, hair symbolism
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Depositing User: Anna Waldstein
Date Deposited: 11 Feb 2021 15:44 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 14:18 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/86563 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Waldstein, Anna: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6384-5770
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