This research uses the business of hair braiding among Senegalese immigrants in the United States as a lens to explore the shifting foundations of social hierarchies and gender roles in Wolof-Muslim Society. The article is based on multisited field research among Senegalese female hair braiders and ordinary women in Senegal, Anderson (South Carolina), Atlanta, New York, and Philadelphia. It reveals that even though most Senegalese immigrants continue to acknowledge the strong influence of "traditions" on their marital and social relations, this influence is rather symbolic. The research suggests that money is gradually displacing nonmaterial sources of prestige and authority, such as blood and "caste" status. Business practices and social interactions in the diaspora are increasingly defined by economic considerations, and the changes that are taking place in the United States are also affecting people left behind in Senegal.


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pp. 3-22
Launched on MUSE
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