Following Human Hair to Unexpected Places: A Review of Emma Tarlo’s Engtanglement: The Secret Lives of Hair


  • Jennifer Porter-Lupu Northwestern University


Centering around the trade in human hair, Entanglement follows Anna Tsing’s The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins, and Gastón R. Gordillo’s Rubble: The Afterlife of Destruction, as multi-sited, interdisciplinary ethnographies centered around a thing or category of things. All three have received recent acclaim from the Society for Humanistic Anthropology; both Tarlo’s and Tsing’s books have been awarded the Victor Turner Book Prize for Ethnographic Writing, Tsing in 2016 and Tarlo in 2017, while Gordillo received an honorable mention. Clearly a popular trend in current ethnographic writing, Tarlo demonstrates the vast potential of such an approach by constructing a nuanced and complex, yet cohesive narrative that traces the commodity pathways of human hair (and sometimes also animal hair) into surprisingly intimate encounters

Author Biography

Jennifer Porter-Lupu, Northwestern University

Jennifer Porter-Lupu is a current doctoral student in Anthropology at Northwestern University. She received her MA from University of Chicago in 2015. Her research interests include materiality, historical archaeology, and queer theory.


Goldstein, Daniel M. 2016. “Rubble: The Afterlife of Destruction by Gastón R. Gordillo. Durham: PB - Duke University Press , 2014. 336 Pp.” American Anthropologist 118 (1): 190–91.

Gordillo, Gastón R. 2014. Rubble: The Afterlife of Destruction. Durham: Duke University Press Books.

Tarlo, Emma. 2016. Entanglement: The Secret Lives of Hair. London: Oneworld Publications.

Tsing, Anna Lowenhaupt. 2015. The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins. Princeton: Princfeton University Press.