Fellow's Talk

Presentation by Stefan Hanß

MacMillan Reading Room, John Carter Brown Library

94 George Street

Image showing two Tupi people with tattoos, a ceremonial club, feathered ornaments, and bow and arrow.

JCB Fellow Stefan Hanß (University of Manchester, Center for New World Comparative Studies Fellow) presents "Indigenous Tonsures?: Hair and Encounters in the Sixteenth-Century Americas." This paper charts some of the cultural, religious, social, gendered, and medical meanings of hair in scenes of cultural encounters in the sixteenth-century Americas. In particular, it examines the links between medicinal and religious knowledge about hair and the ways in which Habsburg subjects addressed bodily concerns related to indigenous hairdressing in sixteenth-century Brazil and Mexico. In a confessionally contested yet shared material world, Habsburg subjects' writings about indigenous haircuts and ritual shaving practices tell us a lot about how people experienced cultural encounters and claimed cultural hierarchies.