My book project, “Each New Curl Howling a War Cry: Black Women and Embodied Racial Formation,” examines how women of African descent use consumer-based strategies to negotiate a politicized trend of wearing un- straightened kinky and curly hair with disparate expectations of state institutions, employers, family members, and romantic partners. Using 3 years of qualitative ethnographic participant observation and 80 interviews with women of African descent in Los Angeles, Atlanta, New York, Paris, Amsterdam, Valencia, Madrid, Johannesburg, Cape Town and in online spaces my research focuses on Black women's interactions with the natural hair movement community. I documented how and when activist, neoliberal, and capitalist frameworks are deployed to theorize black women’s role in working and re-working existing race, class, gender, and diasporic relationships with and through their bodies.
My findings rely on theoretical insights by social movement scholars, critical race theorists, sociologists of the body, economic sociologists, and feminist historians interested in the interplay between black feminist politics, black bodies and black business. Extending critical race theory (which highlights whiteness as a form of property inscribed in laws, policies, and institutional frameworks to confer material, political, and social benefits based on race), I use a feminist analysis of embodiment to further explain that race, gender, and class mutually shape women of color’s social locations, which in turn affect both how others view black women’s bodies and black women’s own body work.