Patrolling of the cultural borders of the body: Is hair a second skin?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The way we modify and view hair culturally has important resonances, not only for the construction of gender and sexuality, but also for the way people are seen (or not) on a day-to-day basis. Hair is far from being a trivial area of study, but ideas of triviality are used to mask and manipulate the political and contentious nature of the subject. One important aspect of the study of cultural ideas about hair is how it relates to cultural ideas about skin. This article uses a queer, hair-inspired, methodology to read part of Steven Connor's The Book of Skin and to contrast it to an article about skin by Gail Vines that appeared in the New Scientist. In doing so, this article examines the idea that hair and skin are sometimes treated as culturally and biologically synonymous, while at the same time, paradoxically, hair is treated as other, different, abject, outside the body. Other thinkers suggest that hair could be clothing or a thread we use to cover ourselves, synonymous with cloth rather than skin itself. Using some of the most recent writing on hair, as well as playing with texts by Butler, Kristeva, Mary, Douglas, and Derrida, this article applies thinking about hair to the idea that the self is somehow contained by the skin. It concludes that our cultural notions of hair have to do with the anxious patrolling of the borders of the body.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)262-275
Number of pages13
JournalTextile: Journal of Cloth and Culture
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2015


  • Skin
  • Hair
  • Connor
  • body
  • culture


Dive into the research topics of 'Patrolling of the cultural borders of the body: Is hair a second skin?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this