Professor Nadia Brown will speak about her new book Sister Style: The Politics of Appearance for Black Women Political Elites (Oxford University Press, 2021), which she co-authored with Danielle Casarez Lemi. The talk will center Black women’s bodies, specifically their hair texture and skin tone, to argue that phenotypic differences among Black women politicians directly impact how they experience political office and how Black voters evaluate them. It will provide an overview of the book’s interdisciplinary, multi-method, and blended epistemological approach of positivism and interpretivism to ask whether African American women’s appearances provide a more nuanced lens through which to study how their raced-gendered identities impact their candidacies and shape their political behavior. In covering these issues, Professor Brown will engage the following questions: What do the politics of appearance for Black women mean for Black women politicians and for Black voters who evaluate them? What are the origins of the contemporary focus on Black women’s bodies in public life? How do Black women politicians themselves make sense of the politics of appearance? Is there a phenotypic profile into which most Black women politicians fit? What is the effect of variation in Black women’s phenotypes for candidate evaluations? And how do voters process the appearances of Black women candidates?
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