Abstract

Abstract:

In 1906, a South African newspaper published a picture of a Chinese man's scalp. An investigation revealed that traditional braids were regularly taken from executed Chinese prisoners and sold to high-ranking colonial officials as curiosities for their private collections. How is one to understand such an event? Drawing on newspapers, photographs, and illustrations of the Chinese queue from the 1600s, as well as the official investigation into the scalping incident and the ensuing press coverage, this article reflects on the intersectionality embodied by the Chinese braid. It will examine the Chinese hairstyle as a social signifier, both in China and throughout the English-speaking world. While the scalping incident seems highly unusual, placing it within a wider social history of hair, Yellow Peril discourse, human trophyism, and the commodification of bodies reveals how colonial power was always relational and always contestable.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-8050
Print ISSN
1045-6007
Pages
pp. 551-586
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-05
Open Access
N

Copyright

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