Welcome to the Origins of the Afro comb project website. In July-October 2013 a major exhibition exploring the history, meaning and form of hair combs in African culture will take place at The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, and will be accompanied by an installation of a barber shop and hair salon by the artist Michael McMillan at The Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge. As part of the preparation for these exhibitions we are recording personal histories- people talking about what the Afro comb means to them and sharing their thoughts about their hair. This material will form an important historical archive, so if you would like to become part of history please get in touch.
The Origins of the Afro Comb Project relies just as heavily on community input as on specialist knowledge. You can view or listen to many community members talking about their own histories and experiences relating to hair and hair combs. This part of the website contains written testimonies. Some of the pieces are the result of writing workshops led by Michael McMillan.
The idea for this project came from working with groups in prison as part of an eight-year outreach programme run by Sally-Ann Ashton, who teaches Black History in twenty different prisons. Sally-Ann is particularly interested to hear from people who are, or have been, in prison and who would be willing to talk or write about the impact of imprisonment on their hair, access to products, clippers and combs. This part of the website is dedicated to this particular part of the project.
Throughout the project classes are also being run in a number of prisons. The material that people have written as part of this work can be found under general community writings.
Here are some of the pieces that community members, both in Britain and abroad, have written for the project. If you would like to add your own work to this part of the site please contact us.