11th Annual Symposium

November 12-14, 2014

How Do I Look?: Race, Beauty, and Desire

The question at the center of this year’s symposium title invites us to consider both how we look at others and how they see us. How we wear our hair, how we adorn our bodies, how we style ourselves, what we consider to be beautiful or desirable in ourselves and others—these are not only questions of personal taste and self-expression but also issues of power and politics.  

Central to the symposium is an examination of the ways in which notions of beauty are affected by ideologies of race and legacies of colonialism, slavery, and discrimination.  We seek a better understanding of the ways in which our sense of ourselves and our judgments of and relations to others are shaped by large structural, historical, and economic forces that position us and frame our ways of being in the world.  At the same time, we will explore ways in which self-expression can be a mode of defiance, resistance, and empowerment.

This year’s symposium aims to explore these complex global questions of race, beauty, and desire from a range of angles, including examinations of the politics of black hair, hierarchies of skin color, cosmetic surgery practices that aim to reduce characteristics associated with particular racial or ethnic groups, appropriation in the name of fashion, the interplay of racism and fatphobia, and the connections among race, beauty, and disability.  

Students, faculty, activists, community leaders, and artists will come together in November to address these topics from different professional and personal perspectives.  Please join us and contribute to the conversation.  All symposium lectures and panels are free and open to the public.

Student Co-Chairs:  Danni Green ’16, Nima Mohamed ’15, and Tyler Wayne Patterson ’16