Books and Monographs
Cutting Along The Color Line: Black Barbers and Barber Shops in America (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013).
Cutting Along the Color Line chronicles the cultural history of black barber shops as businesses and civic institutions. Through several generations of barbers, Mills examines the transition from slavery to freedom in the nineteenth century, the early twentieth-century expansion of black consumerism, and the challenges of professionalization, licensing laws, and competition from white barbers. He finds that the profession played a significant though complicated role in twentieth-century racial politics: while the services of shaving and grooming were instrumental in the creation of socially acceptable black masculinity, barbering permitted the financial independence to maintain public spaces that fostered civil rights politics. This sweeping, engaging history of an iconic cultural establishment shows that black entrepreneurship was intimately linked to the struggle for equality.
With Benjamin Talton, eds., Black Subjects in Africa and Its Diasporas: Race and Gender in Research and Writing (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011).
Through the research and experiences of scholars whose native homes span ten countries, this collection shifts the discussion of belonging and affinity within Africa and its diaspora toward local perceptions and the ways in which these notions are asserted or altered. The interactions and relationships of the researchers with their subjects, sites, and data in context permits a deeper exploration of the role that race and, more specifically, “blackness” may or may not play. The book accomplishes this through a rare comparative and multidisciplinary exploration of African and Africa diasporic communities and their relationships with the scholars of diverse backgrounds who conduct research among them.