Free Community Talk, “Tangled: Why your Hair Matters to Society”


The Vashon Havurah, Vashon-Maury SURJ and Humanities Washington invite the community to an engaging conversation with Anu Taranath, a member of the 2019-2020 Humanities Washington Speakers Bureau. This free event takes place on November 9, 2019 at The Vashon Havurah, 15401 Westside Hwy SW, Vashon.

Hair is simply a collection of protein filaments that sprout from our scalp, yet it carries great meaning for us and our society.

From twists and tapers to braids and buns, what’s on top of our head and how it is received by others often reflects society’s standards of beauty and desirability. Using song, video, poetry, and imagery, this interactive presentation encourages us to examine our cultural conceptions of gender, class, and race. Why, for example, is one kind of hair or hair style understood as “better” than another? Who says so? What are the consequences of sporting an unruly doo, and how has that changed over the years?

Join professor Anu Taranath to untangle the meaning of hair, and better understand the stories we tell about beauty, bias, and belonging.

Anu Taranath is a professor at the University of Washington specializing in global literature, identity, race, and equity. She has received University of Washington’s Distinguished Teaching Award, a “Best of Seattle” designation from Seattle Weekly, and multiple national Fulbright awards and fellowships. She is the author of the book, Beyond Guilt Trips: Mindful Travel in an Unequal World, as well as a consultant for schools, colleges, libraries, community organizations, and government agencies on social justice and global issues. Learn more about her work at
Taranath lives in Seattle.