Natural Covers: Comparative Cultural Geographies of Hair and Forests

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Cultural Geography Specialty Group, Geographic Perspectives on Women Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM (MDT)
Room: Jackson, Marriott, 5th Floor
Organizers: Jeffrey Hoelle
Chairs: Caroline Faria


In geography, the term “land cover” is often used to describe and categorize patterns of vegetation according to geospatial properties, such as height, density, and borders. In this panel, we extend this concept to examine body cover, or hair, which also grows naturally outside of human control and is cultivated and groomed according to social, cultural, environmental, economic, and political considerations. The perception and classification of covers has real-world implications, as people are labeled and treated differently based on their management of covers on the land (e.g. “deforesters,” “forest guardians,” “lawn people”) and the body (e.g. “hairy-legged feminists,” “cavemen,” “clean-cut citizens”). The value judgements that are used to discern and interpret different covers often draw on similar discourses of modernity, beauty, hygiene, evolution, and ideals of nature, though these connections are rarely made explicit. The papers in the panel draw on research on hair and/ or vegetation in different settings across the world, providing an opportunity to think through material and discursive connections that are implicated in longstanding challenges related to environmental sustainability and inequality based on sex, class, and race.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Caroline Faria*, University of Texas - Austin, Mike Dimpfl, Duke University, Ghoulish, Gorgeous, Labored, Loved: The Geopolitics of Hair 20 10:00 AM
Presenter David Kneas*, University of South Carolina, Chest Hair and Climate Change: Exploring the Embodied Geographies of Celebrity Environmentalism 20 10:20 AM
Presenter Jeffrey Hoelle*, University of California - Santa Barbara, Forest, Weeds, and Hair: Nature, Culture, and the Management of “Covers” in Amazonia 20 10:40 AM
Discussant Mike Dimpfl Duke University 20 11:00 AM

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