Date of Award

11-28-2007

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Anthropology

First Advisor

Cassandra White - Chair

Second Advisor

Emanuela Guano

Third Advisor

Megan Sinnott

Abstract

The Black female body has been subject to cultural scripting in which Black women are deemed as the "other." This representation of the Black female is played out in many ways such as through the racial and racist marking of her hair and skin color. In investigating Black women who have participated in a study abroad program, I found that this is one vehicle in which they have been exposed to other's perspectives of the Eurocentric standards of beauty. In this paper, I have examined ways in which Black women are active agents in their own social scripting of their bodies. Through interviews, focus groups and participant observation, with 20 self identified Black women, the investigation began with a look at the African and European cultural influences on African American ideas about beauty, hair and identity. Initial discussions of participants' experiences with hair at home and abroad led to broader dialogues about transformations in their concepts of gender, race, and identity.

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