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In the eighteenth century hair was recognized as possessing fundamental communicative and cultural power. At once a natural extension of the body and a craftable sign, hair served to mark as well as blur boundaries between, for example, nature and culture, man and woman, human and animal. This essay focuses on the discursive and performative ways in which hair linked notions of human variety to gendered, ethnic, and racial differences. It also serves to introduce the eleven interdisciplinary essays in this volume, which considers the topic of hair in art and aesthetics, in everyday life, and in popular culture.