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UW professor uses hairstyles, beauty to discuss race, gender bias

UPDATED: Thu., Feb. 25, 2021

UW professor Anu Taranath  (Courtesy)
UW professor Anu Taranath (Courtesy)

University of Washington professor Anu Taranath will explore cultural perceptions and the role of hairstyles and beauty in a discussion of race and gender bias at Spokane Community College’s Hagan Center.

A presentation will be given for students at 10:30 a.m. on Facebook Live, and a second presentation for the public will be given at 6:30 p.m., both on Wednesday.

Part of SCC’s Hagan Center for the Humanities’ Diversity Dialogue series, “Tangled: Why Your Hair Matters to Society” will feature a mix of song, video, poetry and other media.

In the lecture, Taranath will examine how society’s value judgments surrounding particular hairstyles develop across generations. Taranath hopes the presentation will empower participants to consider their own cultural conceptions.

“I hope that participants find it interesting that our definitions of hair – what is good hair, whose hair is better, where we should or shouldn’t have hair – are often tied to our beliefs about beauty, bias and belonging,” Taranath said.

“How we think of ourselves is often tied to how others see us, and learning more about this can help us better understand society and how we fit together.”

Taranath is a current speaker for Humanities Washington; as a UW professor, she specializes in global literature, identity, race and equity.

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