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Object Lessons is a series of short beautifully designed books about the hidden lives of ordinary thingsHair 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 strongly for thatIn 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 ubiuitous personal yet public object a charged and carefully managed dead thingObject Lessons is published in partnership with an essay series in The Atlantic

10 thoughts on “Hair

  1. says:

    Fascinating stuff – I loved it Looking forward to reading in this series

  2. says:

    Being stuck with a curious friend has meant that I too have become curious about the trivia of the world we live in I chanced upon this book at my favorite bookstore and picked it up immediately as a gift for the curious friend Fact we have always wondered about the obsession with beards and long hair in religion I thought this book would answer those uestions and it largely did Scott Howe also is uite funny in places overall this book is a little treasure that can shed light on our messy chaotic world

  3. says:

    I enjoy microhistories like this This has a definite focus on various religious traditions on hair that I found very interesting even though Lowe can’t write about them without inserting his own judgments It’s fair from comprehensive of course considering its slenderness but you still learn a ton

  4. says:

    Informative entertaining well researched Lots to love in a teeny tiny book

  5. says:

    It's a challenge to write about hair traditions around the globe and throughout time in a casual easy to read manner I commend Scott Lowe for his attempt He states right off the bat how huge the topic of hair is and he's only going to try to hit some highlights adding “ the problem with all hair theories There are exceptions to every rule” This book felt like sitting with your friend over beers discussing the stories of hair in different cultures While I really loved some of the stories and the clear organization of the book I found Lowe's writing style to be on the annoying side Other reviewers here refer to the book as academic but I found it to be collouial in it's style His topic is interesting enough so we didn’t need trite dated and mildly offensive comments When discussing long hair in the 1960s he says after all everyone feels stupid asking 'Are you a boy or are you a girl?' Actually gender or gender less identity is a significant and serious topic today He mentions women in a manner that is dated “In many ways women are tougher than men” And in this example he is downright insulting to blonds Hair color is often used to stereotype individuals in apparently arbitrary ways though when examined historically surprising links can be discovered For example blonds not only have fun they’re believed to be giddy intellectually shallow and perhaps sexually wanton Really? What kind of a comment is this?Lowe uses a tremendous amount of the following words maybe might perhaps purportedly I think my guess possibly sometimes though this is conjecture Sentences with these words don't affirm the authority of the author I'm sure this was a tactic in order to sound less academic and have the book appeal to a broader readership but I found the style cloying As a result it undermined my trust in him as a reliable source and I felt I needed to uestion some of his facts They could all be true but the author did not provide footnotes or uote his sources to to document his statementsBut when Lowe tells personal anecdotes they are entertaining and feel knowledgeable his story about head shaving and Buddhist monks being a fine example Discussing early Christianity the author is in his element and his account of head shaving in medieval China was also super interesting and told with authority But when he refers to bowl cuts on women as still feminine if matronly I just want to say stick to the facts sir this isn't the place for your personal opinion And an eye roll ensued at his disbelief that Chris Rock's work appeals to a diverse demographic Yeah Scott people that aren't black watch Chris Rock So I gave the book 3 stars because I found the book basically enjoyable to read But Lowe missed on too many levels He announced at the beginning that he will not propose a universal theory of hair and in doing so laid out his dated world view and methodology right off the bat Post modern theories did away with the concept that there could possibly be one truth one story years ago

  6. says:

    A competent and readable little academic volume on the cultural and religious significances of human hair and whether it's cut off or pulled out grown matted coloured or whatnot I nearly gave up on it when the introduction said it would attest to the religious significance which is does as a whole and while I found the bulk of the book not exactly extraordinary in detail information or surprise and I could easily have stuck with just the introductory chapter alone none of it felt like a real waste of time The C word should have been put in as a reason for people to lose their hair for it has a cultural significance through its annoying randomness but on the whole this reads as a comprehensive primer As an entrant in this most erratic series it's one of the better ones

  7. says:

    In a series very similar to the Reaktion short studies of animals and things these are cultural histories of objects In this one Lowe a religious scholar looks at hair in the major religious traditions of the world who covers it shaves it off colors it refuses to cut it as tokens of age status sexual availability and belonging There may be no universal to draw from this other than that people react violently when their ideas of how age status sexual availability and belonging are thwarted you long haired effeminate hippy

  8. says:

    One of the idiosyncratic entries in the Object Lesson series and one could be or less enjoyable because of that Mr Lowe adopts a very conversational tone so if this is a writer that you don't want to chat with you're not going to have a good time As such this is stronger in it's anecdotal stories than in it's pure academics as are most of the Object Lesson books A fun read but not a surprising oneI received an ecopy from the publishers and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

  9. says:

    Another excellent volume in the ever fascinating Object Lessons series this time exploring hair – its significance in cultures and religions across the world Well researched and accessibly and entertainingly written this short book will tell you everything you could ever need to know about hair and attitudes to it Great reading

  10. says:

    Hair by Scott Lowe is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in mid May as part of the Object Lessons projectDeeply conversational and theoretical in nature Lowe devotes a few paragraphs each to world cultures and religions' views on hair