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 & 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). <http://www.genders.org/g51/q51bose.html.> 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.
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.