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Book: Body Talk and Cultural Identity in the African World

Chapter: 9. Nonverbal Message: Yoruba View of "Deviant" Male Hairstyles

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.24097


Every society attributes certain significance, meaning to appearance and non-aural symbolic expressions. As non-verbal signal, the view, use, meaning and interpretations of hairstyles are culturally rooted and specific, while reflecting varied approaches to cultural globalization. This paper is a systematic study of the judgments that a society and individuals make about non-verbal signals, exemplified using hairstyle. Specifically, it aims at understanding those internalized values that trigger the judgments that invariably inform actions (positive or negative) directed at the person. More specifically, it is interested in understanding the source of “beliefs” that drive perception, judgment and invariably action. The point of departure for the discussion will be Yoruba people with respect to the way they perceive and treat people with dreadlocks.

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