Project Details
Funding Scheme : Early Career Scheme
Project Number : 28606821
Project Title(English) : Wig: The Global History of a Cold War Commodity, 1958-1979 
Project Title(Chinese) : 假髮:一種冷戰時期商品的全球史,1958-1979 
Principal Investigator(English) : Dr Petrulis, Jason Todd 
Principal Investigator(Chinese) :  
Department : Department of Literature and Cultural Studies
Institution : The Education University of Hong Kong
Co - Investigator(s) :
Panel : Humanities, Social Sciences
Subject Area : Humanities and Arts
Exercise Year : 2021 / 22
Fund Approved : 413,486
Project Status : On-going
Completion Date : 19-5-2025
Abstract as per original application
“Wig: The Global History of a Cold War Commodity, 1958-1979,” examines Asia’s “miraculous” economic growth under the US Cold War umbrella by tracing the “life” of a strange commodity: the human-hair and synthetic-fiber wig. In the 1960s-70s, wigs became a key Cold War commodity in Asia: the #2 export in South Korea, employing over 40,000 people; the #4 export in Hong Kong, employing 30,000; and a state-supported industry in India and Singapore. By the 1970s, when 40% of US women wore wigs or hairpieces, the wig was a US$1 billion global industry, dominated by Asian wigmakers and Korean-American wig retailers. But while no one intended for wigs to fuel Asian industrialization and globalization, the rise of wigs was not an accident. The wig became a Cold War commodity in 1965, when the US extended its 1950 trade embargo against China to include communist “Asiatic” hair – cutting off China’s US$10 million hair trade to punish its escalation of the Vietnam War. This seemingly minor intervention had major consequences: by restricting trade in communist hair, the embargo devastated Hong Kong’s wig industry (which relied on Chinese hair) and jumpstarted South Korea’s industry (since the ROK harvested its own “anti-communist” hair). And as Asian wigmakers scrambled to find new, ideologically acceptable hair sources, they produced a complex map of the Cold War Asia-Pacific: hair was smuggled from China to Hong Kong through Indonesia, and flown from non-aligned India to US-allied South Korea. Wigs thus reveal how Asian export-led industrialization took shape under and beyond US Cold War influence. This project introduces global and interdisciplinary approaches to studying Cold War history. By examining how wigs moved, we understand Asian growth differently: seeing how Asia’s industrialization was shaped not only by Cold War politico-economics but also by ordinary people, from bureaucrats and factory workers to hair peddlers and wig-wearers. The project thus makes a methodological intervention in two growing fields of history, the history of capitalism and global history, by combining “top down” (diplomatic history, political history, economic history) and “bottom up” (social history, labor history, material culture) approaches, producing a thick, transnational approach to global history. “Wig” will yield a book proposal, conference presentations, a journal article, and a complete book draft. To create impact beyond academia, project findings will be used to produce multilingual global history teaching materials, which will be disseminated locally and through a web site for educators around the world.
透過追溯一種奇怪商品的「生命」—人髮與合成纖維假髮,〈假髮:一種冷戰時期商品的全球史,1958-1979〉探討了在美國冷戰保護傘下亞洲的「奇蹟性」經濟增長。 在1960 至 70 年代期間,假髮成為亞洲重要的冷戰時期商品。它是南韓的第二大出口產品,受雇人口超過40,000 人;同時是香港第四大出口產品,產業聘用高達30,000人,並在印度和新加坡屬於國家支援產業。到 1970 年代,當只有四成的美國女性配戴假髮的時候,假髮已成為由亞洲假髮製造商和韓裔美國假髮零售商主導,價值達 10 億美元的全球產業。即使沒有人打算以假髮來推動亞洲工業化和全球化,其興起並非偶然。隨著美國將其1950 年對華禁運擴大至包括共產主義「亞洲」頭髮,切斷中國 1000 萬美元的頭髮貿易以懲罰其越戰升級,假髮於1965年成為冷戰商品。 這種看似微不足道的干預實際上產生了重大影響。通過限制共產主義頭髮貿易,禁運摧毀了依賴來自中國頭髮的香港假髮業,而韓國藉著自行收集「反共」頭髮,造就了南韓產業的興起。當亞洲假髮製造商爭先恐後地尋找新的、意識形態上可接受的頭髮來源時,一幅錯綜複雜的冷戰時期亞太地區地圖由之而成。商人從中國經印度尼西亞走私頭髮到香港,再從非結盟的印度空運到美國盟友南韓。因此,假髮揭示了亞洲出口導向工業化如何在美國冷戰影響底下及其範圍之外形成。 本計劃以全球和跨領域進路研究冷戰時期歷史。研究假髮的移動軌跡讓我們對亞洲的發展有不同的理解。亞洲的工業化不僅受到冷戰政治及經濟層面影響,更受到從官僚及工廠工人到美髮小販和戴假髮者等普通百姓的影響。通過結合「自上而下」(外交史、政治史及經濟史)和「自下而上」(社會史、勞工史及物質文化)的方法,本計劃以方法論介入兩個發展中的歷史領域—資本主義歷史及全球史,並建構對全球史厚實的跨國研究進路。 〈假髮〉將產生一份書籍提案、會議報告、一篇期刊文章和一份完整的書稿。為了在學術界之外產生影響,項目成果將用於製作多語言全球史教材,這些教材將在本地和通過網站向世界各地的教育工作者傳播。
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