Reviews

Twisted: The Tangled History of Black Hair Culture, by Emma Dabiri

hattiereads20476's review

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My browser history is evidence of how unfamiliar I was with the concepts in this book; I must have googled dozens of different people and places and ideas and hairstyles. Also a youtube clip from "Malcolm X."
Frankly: I've often felt awkward when standing the "natural hair" section of the hair products aisle. Is it weird if I buy Cantu, Shea Moisture, these products that I'm not sure were meant for me and my curls? How much of "natural" and "curl" and all these things apply to me? When I see a woman rocking curls--which I notice, because of my own hair--is it okay to comment? Does that change if her hair is kinky? I feel sheepish and ill-equipped, so I picked up this book.
It was about FAR more than I expected. I'm stunned by the intricacies and richness and research, the insights into Nigerian culture and African history and Irish racism and, ugh, again the horrors and degradation that continues to be traced back to colonialism.
This is about a lot more than hair. But also, it's about why hair matters, oh so much.
Powerful and thought-provoking.

absolute_gemma's review against another edition

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challenging dark informative lighthearted sad medium-paced

4.0

librarian_nic's review against another edition

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informative reflective medium-paced

4.75

Another book/listen that should be required reading for white society.

Now I want to learn more about using math in hair design (I’m not explaining this eloquently at all) and more about whitewashed hair culture in general. Hoping the author may also delve deeper into their mixed-race heritage and growing up as a person of colour in Ireland.

Took .25 off for the repetitive ending chapters. 

lectrice's review

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4.0

A bit meandering and not all parts are equally compelling, but lots of intriguing facts and valuable insights (about a lot more than hair

insipidurbanism's review

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challenging emotional informative fast-paced

5.0

cerilouisereads's review against another edition

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challenging informative medium-paced

4.5


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nellieisnotcool's review against another edition

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challenging informative reflective medium-paced

4.5

shonatiger's review

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5.0

A fantastic read. So much to think about. (Also very funny in places.)

loosetoothfool's review against another edition

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informative reflective medium-paced

4.0

so much to learn from this book! i think the topic of hair, and all the things connected with it, was a very interesting and clever way to dissect and learn about African culture, colonialism, African American culture and more. 
the most interesting parts to me were learning about African indigenous spirituality and way of life. it is true that this is not something that we learn or that is talked about, and there are misconceptions and assumptions about Africa that are completely inaccurate and fuelled purely by colonialism. one of the most interesting things to me was oriki, and the ideas of time of Yoruba, and how black hair styles shows this mix of history and new existing at once and how history informs the present and continues in the present, how this is not the western view of history as just the past, i found that very interesting and would love to learn more about it! i also liked learning about different black hairstyles, and experiences of black people with their hair. i also found the parts about patriarchy in relation to black hair, and relationships etc., very interesting and important.
i personally did not find the bits going into detail about specific businesses and economics very interesting but that is just my personal interest and struggle to understand and focus on that kind of information.
regardless, this was very interesting and well written, with a mix of academic and more casual writing that made it easy to digest and understand. i would love to read more from Emma dabiri and would also love to buy myself a copy of this book to underline and really remember and internalise this information.

drjmt's review against another edition

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challenging emotional informative medium-paced

4.0

I found this essay collection very thought provoking and interesting. As a professional mathematician I loved the final essay relating how "complicated" mathematical concepts in the Western cannon arise naturally in various parts of African culture.  I'm still internalising the framing and historical/cultural content of the essay and it is going to influence how I think about mathematics going forwards! This book was more polemic and historical than I was expecting (I thought it would lean more memoir) but once I got into it I really liked the style.