Hair (Object Lessons)
Object Lessons is a series of short, beautifully designed books about the hidden lives of ordinary things.
Hair, a primary marker of our mammalian nature, is an extraordinary indicator of economic and social standing, political orientation, religious affiliation, marital status, and cultural leanings, among other things. The meanings of hair are deep, powerful, and so strongly embedded in cultural conditioning that they are usually understood unconsciously (and all the more strongly for that).
In untangling its myriad meanings, Scott Lowe reveals just how little we control our hair, no matter the style: each and every passer-by decides on its significance anew. From Hittites to hippies and Pentecostals to porn stars, Hair combs through a ubiquitous personal yet public object, a charged and carefully managed dead thing.
Object Lessons is published in partnership with an essay series in The Atlantic.
“The profundity of Hair is intertwined with its sheer simplicity. Scott Lowe has deconstructed a subject that defies deconstruction. This is a global, biological, socio-cultural consideration of a reality we all intuitively understand, yet rarely admit: Haircuts explain people. Which could come across as pedantic, were it not for the fact that Lowe is also effortlessly funny. Unless you're a barber, this is the only book on hair you need to read.” – Chuck Klosterman, author of Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs
“Hair is a hilarious, informative, and provocative look at the significance of hair in human culture. Part of Bloomsbury Academic's Object Lessons, “a book series about the hidden lives of ordinary things,” this short volume considers the biology, removal, styling, and fetishizing of hair as practiced by people around the world. It discusses the variety of religious reasons, and methods, for depilation and for hair cultivation. Scott Lowe was the perfect author for such a book, writing in his characteristic wit. … This book would make an excellent addition to a course on material religion.” – Nova Religio
“An informative, often hair-raising (excuse the pun) journey about how the great religions of today as well as those that have faded away, or cultures, modern and old, have dealt with hair, or lack or length or style of it, both as a unifying, defining symbol as well as differentiating one, or of conformity. But Lowe, who tempers his insights with wit, is always respectful and non-judgmental … Above all, Lowe's is a sobering account of how we can use something we have no control over naturally but can only manipulate to so many purposes.” – BDC News