© 2016

The Symbolism and Communicative Contents of Dreadlocks in Yorubaland


  • Provides the first cultural analysis of Yoruba hairstyle as a vehicle for political and religious expression in African communities

  • Explores cosmetic appearance in gendered terms, focusing primarily on the male experience

  • Based on the first hand experiences of an interdisciplinary scholar


Part of the African Histories and Modernities book series (AHAM)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-ix
  2. Augustine Agwuele
    Pages 1-9
  3. Augustine Agwuele
    Pages 11-38
  4. Augustine Agwuele
    Pages 39-60
  5. Augustine Agwuele
    Pages 61-94
  6. Augustine Agwuele
    Pages 95-150
  7. Augustine Agwuele
    Pages 151-187
  8. Augustine Agwuele
    Pages 189-194
  9. Back Matter
    Pages 195-210

About this book


This book offers an interpretation of Yoruba people’s affective responses to an adult Yoruba male with a ‘deviant’ hairstyle. The work, which views hairstyles as a form of symbolic communicative signal that encodes messages that are perceived and interpreted within a culture, provides an ontological and epistemological interpretation of Yoruba beliefs regarding dreadlocks with real-life illustrations of their treatment of an adult male with what they term irun were (insane person’s hairdo). Based on experiential observations as well as socio-cultural and linguistic analyses, the book explores the dynamism of Yoruba worldview regarding head-hair within contemporary belief systems and discusses some of the factors that assure its continuity. It concludes with a cross-cultural comparison of the perceptions of dreadlocks, especially between Nigerian Yoruba people and Afr

ican American Yoruba practitioners.


Yoruba men Yoruba politics and culture hairstyles and political movements Cosmetology and religion ontological and epistemological identity

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Texas State UniversitySan MarcosUSA

About the authors

Augustine Agwuele is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Texas State University, USA. He combines the conceptual rigors of theoretical linguistics with ethnographically grounded scholarship in socio-cultural anthropology to study peoples and cultures of Africa. At the core of his works is the quest to make sense of variabilities associated with the production of speech segments (phonetics) and to uncover the fulcrum of a people’s perception of, and response to, life persistent concerns (socio-cultural studies). 

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title The Symbolism and Communicative Contents of Dreadlocks in Yorubaland
  • Authors Augustine Agwuele
  • Series Title African Histories and Modernities
  • Series Abbreviated Title African Histories and Modernities
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages History History (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-319-30185-3
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-319-80743-0
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-319-30186-0
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages IX, 210
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 1 illustrations in colour
  • Topics History of Sub-Saharan Africa
    Cultural History
    African Culture
    African Politics
  • Buy this book on publisher's site