Fashioning the Nation: Hairdressing, Professionalism and the Performance of Gender in Ghana, 1900--2006

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University of Michigan, 2008 - 251 pages
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From the 1990s, women and men in Ghana's informal economy created ethnic and cosmopolitan networks that aimed to transform gendered practices into professions. The ordinary women of Elmina took advantage of concepts such as "African pride," "World Heritage site" and "Structural Adjustment" to rework the concepts of hairdressing as regalia to include ordinary women in the economic activities that celebrate their society. They formed an occupation by exhibiting cultural ntakua headgears for companies and organizations, both local and foreign. In a similar sense, commercial hairdressers and beauticians sought skill-training and certificates to provide hairdressing as their transnational vocation. They formed professional associations and with the guidance of the Industrial Commercial Unit of the Trades Union Congress, they negotiated successfully with the appropriate government institutions for new tax rates, utility rates, and a hairdressing syllabus. Consistently, hair serves as a gender based symbol that is combed or braided or straightened into new styles to depict the varied ideas and ideals of Ghanaians and those with whom they interact.

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