The Fitzwilliam is the University of Cambridge's museum of art and antiquities, with thirty-four galleries devoted to Classical, Western, and Oriental art. It is not a place visitors expect to find rooms filled with African combs. During the summer of 2013, however, its Mellon and Octagon galleries were devoted to “Origins of the Afro Comb: 6,000 Years of Culture, Politics and Identity.” Curated by Senior Assistant Keeper of Antiquities Sally-Ann Ashton, it was the Fitzwilliam's major exhibition for 2013 and was publicized by banners throughout the city (Fig. 1). Even the most uninterested visitor to Cambridge could not to fail to notice the exhibition was on; subliminally, at least, the message that “Afro combs” are worthy of attention—aesthetic and/or scholarly—must have got through to at least some tourists, natives, students,...

You do not currently have access to this content.