Dr. Rachel Walker speaks about beauty


Image Courtesy of Hartford.edu

Denny Mathew, Staff Writer

On Tuesday, March 3rd, Rachel Walker, Assistant Professor of History at the University of Hartford participated in The University of Hartford Humanities Center’s Lecture Series for Spring 2020 and spoke on “Beauty, Intelligence and Intersectionality: A Historical Approach”.

The presentation’s primary focus was on the idea of physiognomy, the “science” of people’s facial structures revealing a closer look into their intrinsic nature.

She explained how early Americans used these empirical observations to establish social hierarchies. Walker’s main argument was that external beauty is not always perceived by looking into the discrepancies of biological traits.

Instead, it is perceived in the way it enforces polarized groups between race, gender, and class.

Walker’s presentation was supported by historical research and its thorough examples, supporting the fact that beauty influences social power. She emphasized the research that physiognomy uses, how the facial angles between Caucasians and people of color determine their level of intelligence, which were then used to classify the racial groups into social hierarchies.

Rachel Walker received her Ph.D. in history from the University of Maryland and specializes in research involving the history of gender, race, and science in early America.

Right now, she is working on a book manuscript, tentatively titled Beauty and the Brain: The Science of the Human Mind in Early America, which explains how white women and people of color reconciled popular sciences to advocate for racial justice and gender equality.