Growing dreadlocks, a hair practice usually associated with the Rastafarian movement, has become increasingly popular among people of African descent globally. In concert with other "makers," dreadlocks became symbolic accompaniment to oppositional collective identities associated with the African liberation/Black Power movements. Its spread among African liberationists, womanists, radical artists of African descent reflects counterhegemonic politics. From a combined new social movement and African cultural studies perspective, this research traces the sociopolitical and historical phases of "locking." On the microsociological level, the role that dreadlocks are perceived as playing along three main dimensions of collective identity formation: boundary demarcation, consciousness and negotiation, are explored. The study combines data from fifty-two dreadlocked persons' responses in surveys, interviews, and a focus group with historical documents and sources. Dreadlocks, as contemporary hair aesthetics, can be considered an example of culturally contextualized everyday resistance.

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