In Argentina, you see boys wearing their hair long and wild. For this, shampoo must be foregone for weeks and haircuts for months so that maximum unctuousness may be achieved. The savage impulse must withstand the perennial opposition of forces for shortness—for there is always a national mythology of hair to grow out of and into. The goal is to achieve a look that embodies a descriptor that a century ago would have conveyed deep derision, but which today in Argentina means “awesome” or “perfect”: bárbaro. Argentina is one of the places in the world where the hairdo of European “civilization” has most earnestly (and anxiously) been worn. This is a country that spent more than a century looking back over its shoulder, longing to restore the umbilical connection to a Europe that largely peopled its shores, while horrified to face its own uncivilized interior—the vast Pampan expanse. Hair became one site for this national psychodrama between civilization and barbarism.

more from Jorian Polis Schutz at Cabinet here.