Here’s a list of key texts on fashion, beauty culture, and body politics in an African diasporic context. This list is not exhaustive. It will be updated quarterly.






Articles and Book Chapters

Ash, Juliet. “The Business of Couture.” In Zoot Suits and Second-Hand Dresses: An Anthology of Fashion and Music, ed. Angela McRobbie. Boston, MA: Unwin Hyman, 1988.

Bose, Purnima.“From Humanitarian Intervention to the Beautifying Mission: Afghan Women and Beauty without Borders.” Genders Vol. 51 (2010). <> accessed August 2010.

Chappell, Marissa, Jenny Hutchinson, and Brian Ward. “‘Dress Moderately and Neatly…As if You were Going to Church’: Respectability, Class, and Gender in the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Early Civil Rights Movement.” In Gender and the Civil Rights Movement, ed. Peter J. Ling and Sharon Monteith. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2004.

Ciclitira, Karen. “Pornography, Women, and Feminism: Between Pleasure and Politics,” Sexualities Vol. 7, No. 3: 281-301.

Cook, Ann. “Black Pride?: Some Contradictions.” In The Black Woman: An Anthology, ed. Toni Cade. New York: Penguin, 1970.

Craig, Maxine. “The Decline and Fall of the Conk; or, How to Read a Process.” Fashion Theory Vol. 1, No. 4 (December 1997): 399-420.

Davis, Angela. “Afro Images: Politics, Fashion, and Nostalgia.” In Soul: Black Power, Politics, and Pleasure, ed. Monique Guillory and Richard C. Green. New York: New York University Press, 1998.

Diawara, Manthia. “The 1960s in Bamako: Malick Sidibè and James Brown.” In Black Cultural Traffic: Crossroads in Global Performance and Popular Culture, ed. Harry J. Elam, Jr.and Kennell Jackson. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2005.

Entwistle, Joanne. “The Dressed Body.” In The Fashion Reader, ed. Linda Welters and Abby Lillethun. New York: Berg, 2007.

Farber, Leora. “Africanized Hybridity? Toward an Afropolitan Aesthetic in Contemporary South African Fashion Design,” Critical Arts, Vol. 1, No. 24 (2010): 128-167.

Feldstein, Ruth. “‘I Don’t Trust You Anymore’: Nina Simone, Culture, and Black Activism in the 1960s.” Journal of American History Vol. 91, No. 4 (March 2005): 1349-1379.

Ford, Tanisha C. “SNCC Women, Denim, and the Politics of Dress.” Journal of Southern History. Vol. 79, No. 3 (August 2013): 625-658.

Glick, Elisa. “Sex Positive: Feminism, Queer Theory, and the Politics of Transgression,” Feminist Review, No. 64 (Spring 2000): 19-45.

Griffin, Farrah Jasmine. “Conflict and Chorus: Reconsidering Toni Cade’s The Black Woman: An Anthology.” In Is It Nation Time?: Contemporary Essays on Black Power and Black Nationalism, ed. Eddie S. Glaude and Eddie S. Glaude, Jr. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2001.

Gutzmore, Cecil. “Carnival, the State, and the Black Masses in the United Kingdom.” In Black British Culture and Society, ed. Kwesi Owusu. New York: Routledge, 2000.

Haidarali, Laila. “Polishing Brown Diamonds: African American Women, Popular Magazines, and the Advent of Modeling in Early Post-War America.” Journal of Women’s History No. 17 (2005):10-37.

Hamlin, Kimberly A. “Bathing Suits and Backlash: The First Miss America Pageants, 1921-1927.” In There She Is, Miss American: The Politics of Sex, Beauty, and Race in America’s Most Famous Pageant, ed. Elwood Watson and Darcy Martin. New York: Palgrave, 2004.

hooks, bell. “Straightening Our Hair.” Z Magazine (Summer 1998): 14-18.

Ibrahiim, Khadijah. “Afro and ‘Fro Wearing Brothers and Sistahs.” In Do You Remember Olive Morris?, ed. Anna Collin, Tanisha Ford, Ana Laura Lopez De La Torre, and Kimberly Springer. London: Gasworks and Remembering Olive Collective, 2009.

Kelley, Robin D.G. “Nap Time: Historicizing the Afro.” Fashion Theory Vol. 1, No. 4(1997):       339-351.

Kinloch, Valerie Felita. “The Rhetoric of Black Bodies: Race, Beauty, and Representation.” In There She Is, Miss America: The Politics of Sex, Beauty, and Race in America’s Most Famous Pageant, ed. Elwood Watson and Darcy Martin. New York: Palgrave, 2004.

Lang, Kurt and Gladys Engel Lang. “The Power of Fashion.” In The Fashion Reader, ed. Linda Welters and Abby Lillethun. New York: Berg, 2007.

McAndrew, Malia. “Selling Black Beauty: African American Modeling Agencies and Charm Schools in Postwar America.” OAH Magazine of History Vol. 24, No. 1 (January 2010): 29-32.

McRobbie, Angela. “Second-hand Dresses and the Ragmarket.” In Zoot Suits and Second-Hand Dresses: An Anthology of Fashion and Music, ed. Angela McRobbie. Boston, MA Unwin Hyman, 1988.

Mercer, Kobena. “Black Hair/Style Politics.” In Out There: Marginalization and Contemporary Cultures, ed. Russell Ferguson et al. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1990.

Mudaly, Ronika. “Shattering and Reassembling Hypersexual Moments: Girls, Indulging in the Pursuit of Pleasure,” Sexualities, Vol. 15, No. 2 (March 2012): 225-242.

Niessen, Sandra. “Re-Orienting Fashion Theory” in The Fashion Reader, ed. Linda Welters and Abby Lillethun. New York: Berg, 2007.

Rogerson, Christian. “Developing the Fashion Industry in Africa: The Case of Johannesburg,” Urban Forum, Vol. 17, No. 3 (July-September 2006): 215-240.

Rowe, Rochelle. “‘Glorifying the Jamaican Girl’: The ‘Ten Types—One People’ Beauty Contest, Racialized Femininities, and Jamaican Nationalism.” Radical History Review No. 103 (Winter 2009): 36-58.

Scheuring, Dirk. “Heavy Duty Denim: ‘Quality Never Dates.’” In Zoot Suits and Second-Hand Dresses: An Anthology of Fashion and Music, ed. Angela McRobbie. Boston: Unwin Hyman, 1988.

Suriano, Maria. “Clothing and Changing Identities of Tangangikan Urban Youths, 1920s-1950s,” Journal of African Cultural Studies, Vol. 20, No. 1 (June 2008): 95-115.

Tice, Karen W. “Queens of Academe: Campus Pageantry and Student Life.” Feminist Studies Vol.31, No. 2 (Summer 2005) 250-283.

Tulloch, Carol. “That Little Magic Touch: The Headtie.” In Black British Culture and Society, ed. Kwesi Owusu. New York: Routledge, 2000.

Tulloch, Carol. “Style-Fashion-Dress: From Black to Post-Black,” Fashion Theory, Vol. 14, No. 3 (September 2010): 273-304.

Vincent, Louise. “Steve Biko and Stoned Cherrie: Refashioning the Body Politic in Democratic South Africa,” African Sociological Review, No. 11, Vol. 2 (2007): 80-93.

Walker, Susannah. “Black is Profitable: The Commodification of the Afro, 1960-1975.” In Beauty and Business: Commerce, Gender, and Culture in Modern America. New York: Routledge, 2001.

Wallace, Michelle. “Modernism, Post Modernism and the Problem of the Visual in Afro-American Culture.” In Out There: Marginalization and Contemporary Cultures, ed. Russell Ferguson et al. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1990.

Weekes, Debbie. “Shades of Blackness: Young Black Female Constructions of Beauty.” In Black British Feminism: A Reader, ed. Heidi Safia Mirza. New York: Routledge, 1997.

Welters, Linda. “The Natural Look: American Style in the 1970s.” Fashion Theory Vol. 12, No.4 (2008): 489-510.

White, Shane and Graham White. “Slave Hair and African American Culture in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries.” Journal of Southern History Vol. 61, No. 1 (February 1995): 45-76.

Woodard, Jennifer Bailey and Teresa Mastin. “Black Womanhood: ‘Essence’ and its Treatment of Stereotypical Images of Black Women.” Journal of Black Studies Vol. 36, No. 2 (November 2005): 264-281.



Allman, Jean ed., Fashioning Africa: Power and the Politics of Dress. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2004.

Bailey, Eric J. Black America, Body Beautiful: How the African American Image is Changing Fashion, Fitness, and Other Industries. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2008.

Baldwin, Davarian L. Chicago’s New Negroes: Modernity, The Great Migration, and Black Urban Life. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2007.

Banks, Ingrid. Hair Matters: Beauty, Power, and Black Women’s Consciousness. New York: New York University Press, 2000.

Barnard, Rita. “Contesting Beauty” in Senses of Culture: South African Cultural Studies, ed. Sarah Nuttall and Cheryl-Ann Michael. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Bhattacharyya, Gargi. Tales of Dark-Skinned Women: Race, Gender, and Global Culture. London: University College London Press, 1998.

Brown, Kimberly Nichele. Writing the Black Revolutionary Diva: Women’s Subjectivity and the Decolonizing Text. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2010.

Brun-Lambert, David. Nina Simone: The Biography. London: Aurum, 2009.

Byrd, Ayana D. and Lori L. Tharps. Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2001.

Cheng, Anne A. Second Skin: Josephine Baker and the Modern Surface. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Cohodas, Nadine. Princess Noire: The Tumultuous Reign of Nina Simone. New York: Pantheon, 2010.

Collins, Patricia Hill. Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment. New York: Routledge, 2000.

Conor, Liz. The Spectacular Modern Woman: Feminine Visibility in the 1920s. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2004.

Craig, Maxine Leeds. Ain’t I a Beauty Queen: Black Women, Beauty, and the Politics of Race. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Davis, Angela Y. Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holliday. New York: Pantheon, 1998.

de Marley, Diana. Working Dress: A History of Occupational Clothing. London: Holmes and Meier, 1987.

Erasmus, Zimitri.  “Hair Politics,” in Senses of Culture: South African Cultural Studies, ed. Sarah Nuttall and Cheryl-Ann Michael. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Foster, Gwendolyn Audrey. Troping the Body: Gender, Etiquette, and Performance. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 2000.

Fraser, Kennedy. The Fashionable Mind: Reflections on Fashion, 1970-1981. New York: Knopf, 1981.

Gill, Tiffany. Beauty Shop Politics: African American Women’s Activism in the Beauty Industry. Urbana-Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2010.

Gilmour, Sarah. 20th Century Fashion: The 70s: Punks, Glam Rockers, and New Romantics. Milwaukee, WI: Gareth Stevens, 2000.

Gott, Suzanne and Kristyne Loughran, eds., Contemporary African Fashion. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2010.

Gwatkin, Nina W. Yoruba Hairstyles: A Selection of Hairstyles in Southern Nigeria. Lagos, Nigeria: Craft Centre, National Museum Compound, 1971.

Hampton, Sylvia with David Nathan. Nina Simone: Break Down and Let it All Out. London: Sanctuary, 2004.

Hansen, Karen Tranberg Salaula: The World of Secondhand Clothing and Zambia. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

Heap, Chad. Slumming: Sexual and Racial Encounters in American Nightlife, 1885-1940. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2009.

hooks, bell. Black Looks: Race and Representation. Boston: South End Press, 1992.

Howell, Georgina. In Vogue: 75 Years of Style. New York: Random House, 1992.

Ifekwunigwe, Jayne O. Scattered Belongings: Cultural Paradoxes of “Race,” Nation, and Gender. New York: Routledge, 1999.

Jennings, Helen. New African Fashion. New York: Prestel, 2011.

Johnson, Lakesia. Iconic: Decoding Images of Revolutionary Black Women. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2012.

Lanning, Mark, et al. Life Soweto Style. Cape Town, SA: Struik, 2003.

Lowe, Margaret A. Looking Good: College Women and Body Image, 1875-1930. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005.

Mager, Anne Kelk. Gender and the Making of A South African Bantustan: A Social History of the Ciskei, 1945-1959. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1999.

Makeba, Miriam. Makeba: My Story. New York: New American Library, 1987.

Mama, Amina. Beyond the Masks: Race, Gender, and Subjectivity. New York: Routledge, 1995.

Miller, Monica L. Slaves to Fashion: Black Dandyism and the Styling of Black Diasporic Identity. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2009.

Morrow, Willie. 400 Years Without a Comb. San Diego: Black Publishers of San Diego, 1973.

Niessen, Sandra. “Re-Orienting Fashion Theory” in The Fashion Reader, ed. Linda Welters and Abby Lillethun. New York: Berg, 2007.

Nuttall, Sarah. Beautiful/Ugly: African and Diaspora Aesthetics, ed. Sarah Nuttall. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007.

Peiss, Kathy. Hope in a Jar: The Making of America’s Beauty Culture. New York: Holt, 1998.

Powe-Temperley, Kitty. 20th Century Fashion: The 60s: Mods and Hippies. Milwaukee, WI: Gareth Stevens, 2000.

Rabine, Leslie W. The Global Circulation of African Fashion. New York: Berg, 2002.

Ribane, Nakedi. Beauty: A Black Perspective. Scottsville, SA: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 2006.

Rooks, Noliwe. Ladies Pages: African American Women’s Magazines and the Culture That Made Them. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2004.

Scott, Linda. Fresh Lipstick: Redressing Fashion and Feminism. New York: Palgrave, 2005.

Simone, Nina. I Put a Spell on You. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo, 1991.

Stroud, Andrew. Nina Simone: Black is the Color. New York: Xlibris, 2005.

Summers, Barbara. Skin Deep: Inside the World of Black Fashion Models. New York: Amistad Press, 1998.

The Modern Girl Around the World Research Group. The Modern Girl Around the World: Consumption, Modernity, and Globalization. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008.

Walker, Susannah. Style and Status: Selling Beauty to African American Women, 1920-1975. Lexington, KY: The University Press of Kentucky, 2007.

White, E. Frances. Dark Continent of Our Bodies: Black Feminism and the Politics of Respectability. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2001.

White, Shane and Graham White. Stylin’: African American Expressive Culture from Its Beginnings to the Zoot Suit. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998.